Industry Goes to ‘The Big Apple' to Warn of Illegal Gun Purchases
NEWTOWN, Conn. — As part of an ongoing national effort to help prevent illegal “straw” purchases of firearms, the National Shooting Sports Foundation brings a stern warning about the stiff penalties for such purchases to Times Square in the heart of New York City.
An advertisement for the Don’t Lie for the Other Guy program has been placed by NSSF on the giant 18 by 34-foot screen that is an icon of Times Square, dominating the corners of 7th and 8th Avenues at 42nd Street. The message reads: “Buy a gun for someone who can’t and buy yourself 10 years in jail. Whatever you do . . . Don’t Lie for the Other Guy . . . dontlie.org”
More than 365,000 pedestrians walk through the “Great White Way” on any given day, making this a coveted spot for any public-education message campaign.
“Don’t Lie” is a cooperative program between the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and NSSF, the trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry. The effort was developed over a decade ago to raise public awareness about the seriousness of the crime of purchasing a firearm for someone who cannot legally do so. The program also helps ATF educate firearms dealers so they can be better prepared to detect and help deter potential straw purchases.
The campaign drives home the message that anyone attempting an illegal firearm purchase faces a stiff federal felony penalty of up to 10 years in jail or up to $250,000 in fines.
To legally purchase a firearm, a person must be able to pass an FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check and fully comply with state and local laws. When a criminal knows he cannot pass this check, he may try to induce a friend to make the purchase on his behalf, which is known as a straw purchase and is a felony.
“Our goal is to raise awareness among New Yorkers and tourists coming into the city that there are serious consequences for illegally straw purchasing a firearm,” said Stephen L. Sanetti, NSSF’s president and CEO. “This warning can help deter an illegal purchase long before a person steps into a licensed retail store, and we have run similar notices all across the nation.”
The huge pedestrian crowds that are drawn to the Times Square area’s theaters, shops and attractions will see the Don’t Lie message. Many travelers using the Port Authority bus terminal just half a block from the giant video screen also will see the warning.
This public awareness campaign in New York City constitutes only part of the Don’t Lie for the Other Guy outreach effort. The full Don’t Lie for the Other Guy program, which also involves educating firearms retailers to better detect and prevent straw purchases, has been rolled out in major cities throughout the country and along the U.S.-Mexican border. This is a campaign that ATF has called “vital” and “an important tool for ATF as it pursues its mission of preventing terrorism, reducing violent crime, and protecting the nation.” In the retailer segment, federal firearms licensees are provided a Don’t Lie for the Other Guy retailer kit. Each kit contains a training video and informational brochure for storeowners and staff, as well as point-of-purchase displays aimed to deter illegal straw purchases.
The promotion of the Don’t Lie for the Other Guy message in Times Sqaure is being funded by the firearms industry.
“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 NSSF Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF’s senior vice president and general counsel. “We are happy to make the complete Don’t Lie for the Other Guy program available to New York City and the surrounding area.”
Learn more about Don’t Lie for the Other Guy at www.dontlie.org.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 6,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers. For more information, log on to www.nssf.org.
NSSF is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2011. Learn about the Foundation’s history at www.nssf.org/50.