straw purchase(r)/buyer

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Sun Mar 22 15:38:42 UTC 2009

caught in the NYT on 3/20/09, in "Prosecutors Seek Appeal In Dismissal
Of Gun Case", by James C. McKinley Jr. (p. A12):

Federal agents say the smugglers, who have pleaded guilty to lesser
charges, recruited at least seven people with clean records as straw
purchasers to buy the guns on their behalf, paying them $100 a gun.

... Judge Gottsfield determined that even though the straw buyers had
made false statements on federal forms claiming they were buying for
themselves, they were legally eligible to buy the weapons, so the
deception dd not amount to a "material falsification" under state law.

He also asserted that federal gun laws require prosecutors to prove
not just that someone lied to a gun dealer to obtain a weapon for
someone else, but also that the person who ended up with the gun could
not legally buy one.

[the straw buyers were acting on behalf of a gun dealer, George
Iknadosian, of Glendale, Arizona, who was accused of arming a Mexican
gun cartel.]

there's a wikipedia page for "straw purchase", which cites the term as
specific to U.S. federal firearms law (and there are lots of hits for
"straw purchaser" in this context), while maintaining that in common
usage it has been extended to other sorts of purchases, like buying
liquor on behalf of someone under legal drinking age.  no examples are
cited there, however. but grant barrett has a quotation for "straw
buyer" here --
with reference to a type of illegal land flip, and you can find
occurrences of "straw purchaser" in this context.

"straw purchase", "straw purchaser", and "straw buyer" are not in OED,
NOAD2, or AHD4.

the expressions are almost surely related to "man of straw" and "straw
man".  and compare this cite for "straw bail" in the OED:

1859  Bartlett Dict. Amer. (ed. 2) 455: worthless bail; bail given by
'man of straw', i.e. persons who pretend to the possession of
property, but have none.


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