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'Don't Lie For The Other Guy' | ATF, Local Police Target Illegal Gun Purchasers

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The ATF announced the kickoff of a national campaign targeting illegal gun purchasers in the Baltimore area.

The "Don't Lie For The Other Guy" campaign allows both federal and local agencies to target people who illegally purchase a gun for a prohibited person -- otherwise known as "straw" purchasing.

Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt joined officials from the ATF, U.S. Attorney's office and Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison in stressing the importance of the campaign, recalling the infamous case of killer Joseph Palczynski.

"In March of 2000, Constance Waugh illegally purchased two guns, an assault rifle and a shotgun, for Joseph Palczynski," Hyatt said. "At that time, he was prohibited from possessing or purchasing a firearm."

Palczynski went on a murder spree, killing four people and eluding law enforcement for ten days, holding three hostages before ultimately being killed by police.

Waugh was sentenced to 16 months for buying the guns for him.

The campaign warns against buying guns for others.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation is a sponsor of the program.

"When a criminal knows that he cannot pass the background check or is a firearms trafficker and doesn't want their name associated with the transaction, they may try to induce a friend or other person, the strawman, to purchase the firearm on their behalf," said foundation president Lawrence Keane.

The law requires gun buyers to fill out a form confirming the buyer will be the actual owner. A strawman signing the form would therefore be committing a federal crime.

These straw purchases happen more often than one might think: the ATF said people should be aware the gun they sign for can be traced back to them.

"Individuals will figure out a way to go out and approach someone who might be short on cash and say 'If you purchase this firearm for me, I'll give you X dollars as a reward for you to do that,'" said ATF Baltimore field agent Rob Cekada.

If convicted, a person could face 10 years of jail time and a $250,000 fine.

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