Trafficking in Firearms
While the term trafficking is most commonly used in reference to drug crimes, it also applies to firearms. Trafficking in firearms is sometimes referred to simply as "gunrunning." Essentially, trafficking in firearms involves weapons being illegally transported and transferred within the United States.
While no state or federal law exists specifically addressing firearms trafficking offenses, state and federal agencies still investigate these types of crimes and charge alleged offenders with other related crimes. Some of these offenses carry extremely steep penalties that may include possibly being sentenced to decades in prison and ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.Lawyer for Trafficking in Firearms Arrests in Broward County, FL
Were you arrested or do you think that you could be under investigation for any kind of crime relating to gun trafficking? You should refuse to speak to authorities until you can first contact The Hoffman Firm.
Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney Evan A. Hoffman defends clients facing firearm and weapon charges in communities all over Broward County, such as Dania Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Hallandale Beach, Cooper City, Coral Springs, and several others. You can have our lawyer provide a complete evaluation when you call (954) 524-4474 to receive a free, confidential consultation.
Overview of Trafficking in Firearms Crimes in Fort Lauderdale
- What Florida weapons laws implicate gun trafficking crimes?
- Which firearm trafficking crimes are addressed under federal law?
- Where can I learn more about trafficking in firearms in Broward County?
Florida Trafficking in Firearms Penalties
A person accused of engaging gun trafficking crimes in Florida could face any one of a number of different charges under state law. Florida Statute § 790.175, for example, establishes the following requirements relating to the transfer or sale of firearms within the state.
Under Florida Statute § 790.175(1), a seller or transferor involved in the retail, commercial sale or retail transfer of any firearm must deliver a written warning to the purchaser or transferee which states in block letters not less than 1/4 inch in height:
“IT IS UNLAWFUL, AND PUNISHABLE BY IMPRISONMENT AND FINE, FOR ANY ADULT TO STORE OR LEAVE A FIREARM IN ANY PLACE WITHIN THE REACH OR EASY ACCESS OF A MINOR UNDER 18 YEARS OF AGE OR TO KNOWINGLY SELL OR OTHERWISE TRANSFER OWNERSHIP OR POSSESSION OF A FIREARM TO A MINOR OR A PERSON OF UNSOUND MIND.”
Similarly, Florida Statute § 790.175(2) states that any retail or wholesale store, shop, or sales outlet that sells firearms must conspicuously post at each purchase counter the following warning in block letters not less than 1 inch in height:
“IT IS UNLAWFUL TO STORE OR LEAVE A FIREARM IN ANY PLACE WITHIN THE REACH OR EASY ACCESS OF A MINOR UNDER 18 YEARS OF AGE OR TO KNOWINGLY SELL OR OTHERWISE TRANSFER OWNERSHIP OR POSSESSION OF A FIREARM TO A MINOR OR A PERSON OF UNSOUND MIND.”
A violation of either of these statutes is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. The possible consequences for violations of Florida Statute § 790.065—relating to the sale and delivery of firearms—are more severe.
Under Florida Statute § 790.065(12), it is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 for any of the following parties to willfully and knowingly provide false information or false or fraudulent identification in the sale or delivery of a firearm:
- Any potential buyer or transferee;
- Any licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer; or
- Any employee or agent of a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer.
Florida Statute § 790.065(12)(d) also makes it a third-degree felony for any person to knowingly acquire a firearm through purchase or transfer intended for the use of a person who is prohibited by state or federal law from possessing or receiving a firearm.
Many federal crimes relating to alleged gun trafficking offenses are found under 18 U.S.C. § 922. Unlawful acts under this statute include:
- Possession of Prohibited Firearms — Possession of an unregistered silencer, short barreled rifle, short barreled shotgun, destructive device or a sawed-off shotgun is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and up to 10 years in prison. Possession of a firearm with an altered serial number is punishable by up to five years and a fine of up to $250,000. Possession of a machine gun is punishable by up to 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000.
- Possession of Firearms by Prohibited Person — Nine categories of persons are prohibited from possessing firearms under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). Possession of a firearm by a prohibited person is punishable by up to 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000.
- Brady Act Waiting Period Violations — A licensed dealer who sells, delivers, or transfers a handgun to an unlicensed individual can be sentenced to a fine of up to $1,000 and up to one year in prison.
- False Statements — A person who makes a false statement to a licensed dealer in connection with the acquisition of a firearm can be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.
Under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), any person who, during and in relation to any crime of violence or drug trafficking crime, uses or carries a firearm, or who, in furtherance of any such crime, possesses a firearm, can be sentenced to a minimum of five years in prison. The minimum sentence is seven years in prison if the alleged offender brandishes the firearm, and discharging the firearm is punishable by a minimum of 10 years in prison.
When a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) involves a short-barreled rifle, short-barreled shotgun, or semiautomatic assault weapon, then the minimum sentence is also ten years. If the violation involves a machinegun or a destructive device, or is equipped with a firearm silencer or firearm muffler, the minimum sentence is 30 years in prison.
Second or subsequent convictions under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)are punishable by a minimum of 25 years in prison. If a second or subsequent conviction involved a machinegun or a destructive device or is equipped with a firearm silencer or firearm muffler, the alleged offender can be sentenced to life in prison.
Florida Firearms Trace Data 2015 | Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) — The ATF states that tracing firearms is a "key component" of its enforcement mission. A September 29, 2017, ATF press release reported that 289,223 firearms were recovered and traced in the United States in 2016. You can find information about types of firearms recovered in Florida, the top cities for weapons with a Florida recovery, and analytical criteria used to compile the statistics used in this report.
Trafficking & Straw Purchasing | Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence — The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence identifies itself as "the nation’s leading policy organization dedicated to researching, writing, enacting, and defending proven laws and programs, is on a mission to save lives from gun violence by shifting culture, changing policies, and challenging injustice." On this section of the organization's website, you can learn more about such issues as unlicensed sellers, lost or stolen guns, and bulk firearm sales. The website also provides an overview of existing federal and state laws as well as key legislative elements intended to provide a framework from which policy options may be considered.
If you believe that you might be under investigation or you were already arrested for an alleged gun trafficking crime in Broward County, it is in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. The Hoffman Firm represents individuals in Margate, Miramar, Pompano Beach, Hollywood, Lauderhill, and many surrounding areas of South Florida.
Evan A. Hoffman is an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who is licensed in state courts throughout Florida as well as the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
He can review your case and help you understand all of your legal options as soon as you call (954) 524-4474 or submit an online contact form to set up a free initial consultation.