Buying a gun for someone else is a crime, and there’s a new program being rolled out in Philadelphia that is geared toward stopping those straw purchases through education. Operation LIPSTICK (Ladies Involved in Putting a Stop to Inner-City Killing) will target the women who are most likely to engage in the illegal activity by informing them of the consequences.
‘We ensure that women know the truth,’ said Tamia Rashima-Jordan, executive director of Operation LIPSTICK. ‘Buying, hiding or holding a gun for someone who can’t own guns legally is a serious crime that fuels neighborhood gun violence, mass incarceration, trauma, injury and death.’
Operation LIPSTICK comes to Philadelphia for the first time thanks to a $123,000 grant from Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s Office. The coalition will partner with the violence prevention and intervention organization Mothers in Charge to educate women and share data with the attorney general’s office.
Pennsylvania’s Attorney General is a big fan of all kinds of gun control proposals, but in this case, it’s not about putting a new law on the books, it’s about making potential straw buyers aware of the consequences.
Shapiro said his office opens an average of 25 straw purchasing cases every month. Those convicted of two straw purchases face with a five-year mandatory sentence.
‘Even if you are not the one who pulled the trigger, you will still be held criminally liable if you are the one who supplied the gun to someone who is not supposed to have it,’ he said.
Rashima-Jordan says gun-related crimes committed by women dropped by 33% when a similar program was introduced in Boston, which is a substantial reduction. I hope that AG Shapiro and the ladies behind Operation LIPSTICK will also reach out to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which runs its own anti-straw purchasing campaign called Don’t Lie For The Other Guy.
There’s one more step the Pennsylvania Attorney General could take if he’s really serious about cracking down on straw purchases, one that also doesn’t involve putting a new law on the books. In Pennsylvania, a straw purchase conviction comes with a mandatory five-year prison sentence, but only after being convicted of at least two purchases. At the federal level, someone convicted of a straw purchase is looking at the possibility of ten years behind bars. Shapiro could and should take a hard line on cases where guns were supplied to the most violent criminals and gang members and refer those cases to the U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia for prosecution in federal court. Education is an important part of deterrence, but education backed up by targeted enforcement can have an even bigger impact on these crimes.