The gun industry’s top trade association brought its national campaign targeting straw purchases to Boston this week.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation partnered with state and federal agencies Monday to raise awareness across the city about the stiff penalties facing those who buy a gun for a prohibited person — a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
“The firearms industry is proud of its longstanding cooperative relationship with the ATF and the entire law enforcement community by assisting them in their efforts to combat the criminal acquisition and misuse of firearms,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel, during a press conference Monday. “I’m proud to say this campaign is entirely funded by members of the firearms industry.”
Billboard advertisements — featuring the message “Buy a gun for someone who can’t and buy yourself 10 years in jail. Don’t Lie for the Other Guy.” — will appear along Interstates 93, 495 and 290 and Routes 9 and 146. The NSSF also sponsored ads on the commuter rails, subways and buses within the state’s public transit system.
Federally licensed gun dealers in the Boston area will also receive advanced training materials on how to better identify straw purchasers, the NSSF said. More than 684,000 disqualifying records exist for Massachusetts residents in the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System — the database retailers use to verify a potential buyer can legally own a firearm before completing the sale.
“The … program has been welcomed by firearms retailers as a valuable educational tool to better enable them to spot would-be straw purchasers and prevent illegal straw purchases,” Keane said in a statement posted to the campaign’s website. “This partnership is a great example of coordination and tangible success on the federal, state, and local levels and with federally licensed firearms retailers throughout the country.”
The NSSF created the Don’t Lie campaign 17 years ago in coordination with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Department of Justice and the Office of Justice Programs. So far, the campaign has reached more than a dozen major cities from coast to coast — including New York City, San Diego, Chicago, Houston and Cincinnati.
“The goal of the ‘don’t lie for the other guy program’ is to reduce straw purchases at the retail level and to educate would-be straw purchasers about the penalties of knowingly participating in these illegal firearm purchases,” said Mickey Leadingham, special agent in charge of the ATF’s Boston Field Division. “Denial of guns to prohibited persons is critical to the mission of the ATF in combating violent crime in our communities and protecting our nation.”