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The risk of lying on a gun purchase application

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Image from the Government Printing Office’s website.

As long as people must fill out applications for handgun purchase background checks, people with applicable convictions and applicable pending criminal charges will insert incorrect information, be prosecuted, and, with at least some, convicted.

Enter Russell Smith, who had a pending marijuana felony prosecution in court, but nevertheless denied that fact in his handgun purchase application. Smith v. Va., ___ Va. App. ___ (Nov. 23, 2010). As Smth details:

Various questions follow the warning, including Question 11.b, which asked: “Are you under indictment or information in any court for a felony, or any other crime, for which the judge could imprison you for more than one year?” (Emphasis in original.) Smith wrote “No” in response to this question. Right above Smith’s signature is a certification, which reads:

I certify that the answers to Section A are true and correct. I am aware that ATF Form 4473 contains Important Notices, Instructions, and Definitions. . . . I understand that a person who answers “yes” to any of the questions 11.b through 11.k is prohibited from purchasing or receiving a firearm. . . . I also understand that making any false oral or written statement, or exhibiting any false or misrepresented identification with respect to this transaction, is a crime punishable as a felony.

When in doubt about how to answer a handgun purchase background application, hire a qualified lawyer for advice, or simply walk away from the transaction.