Don’t Buy Guns For Friends…

Fox News reports that an Air Marshal supervisor is being investigated for buying guns using his SIG Sauer law enforcement discount, and the agency’s FFL license for transfers, on behalf of friends and Air Marshal civilian employees. Fox News reports

The document detailing the allegations — written by a whistleblower and circulated among some employees — claimed that Poulos, at the Washington Field Office, is “under an active investigation by the DHS IG” for using his FAMS license to buy guns “from Sig Sauer for the FAMS Director, senior TSA/FAMS staff and a few Federal Air Marshals at a discounted ‘FAMS Agency’ rate.”

Even if you are not a government employee, when buying guns (or anything) from suppliers may be considered unethical, a good rule to live by is “Don’t buy guns for friends”. Instead, give them a gift voucher or money for the gun and drive them to your local gun store gun store. Straw purchases, or gifts, even when you think they are legal, are not worth it. That girl you met in a bar three weeks ago, fell in love with and have since been on seven romantic dates and two range trips, may have felonies or mental health issues you don’t know about. Don’t gift her a gun (which is not legally considered a straw purchase), instead give her a gift certificate and drive to a gun shop and help her choose a gun.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Straw purchases are serious business. When I had my visit by the ATF as part of the FFL application process, the agent put a lot of emphasis on that section of the rule book.
    It is unfortunate what is happening to this man, but the law is the law.

    • Dan

      Taking freebies is why he is in trouble. Do you think SIG is just some benevolent company who would give free guns for nothing in return. Corruption is the name of the game.

  • Jeff

    Technically speaking its only a straw purchase if the person isn’t legally allowed to possess that weapon. In this instance it’s an Air Marshal buying other senior Air Marshal and TSA staff firearms. Chances are those individuals wouldn’t be allowed to have their job if they weren’t allowed to own firearms. This only leaves whether the officer committed a crime by potentially lying on his forms when purchasing, a notion on legality presently working its way through the court system, or if it was simply an abuse of his discount which may have policy or contractual implications. These other people you would think should have access to thiis discount, and no doubt that’s what this FAM thought.

    • Kris Moore

      OK, So on the xfer where it asks him to confirm he will be the owner……………At a minimum he committed fraud several times, once on the form, and who knows how many times violating his program rules and duty responsibilities.

      • cawpin

        It doesn’t ask if you will be the owner. It asks if you are the purchaser. Since you are trading money for am item, you always are, regardless of your intent.

        • gunslinger

          not quite. It asks if you are the transferee/buyer. “You ar not the buyer if you are acquiring the firearm(s) on behalf of another person. If you are not the actual buyer, the dealer cannot transfer to you”. If you are using someone else’s money to buy the gun for them (i.e. buying for them) you are not allowed to do it (even if the other person is legally allowed to own a gun?). if you use your money to buy a gun and then gift to a friend, it is legal as you are the acutal person buying the item (same as buying a non gun gift for someone. you buy the item from the store). the catch is that you ar enot permitted to transfer a firearm to any person you know or have reasonable cause to believe is prohibited

          now, say you have billy-bob helping you out around the house.. new roof, fixed siding..etc. knew him from work and all. seemed like a good guy. and he states he’s an avid shooter. you figure after all the work he’s helped you with you want to gift him a gun. so you go to LGS and pick up said gun. well in the meantime, he then mentioned that oh yeah…he mentiones about any of the questions 11c-l that would then disqualify him from owning a gun. you can’t transfer the gun to him.

          • cawpin

            I know what it says, but what they SAY it asks isn’t actually what it asks. Just read it as a lawyer and you’ll see.

            And, to be very clear, I’m not advising people to break the law. It just a discussion point.

          • gunslinger

            still, even thought the question may be “interperated” one way using language skills, they also provide detailed instructions on what they are actually asking for. if they had not provided that portion, then yes, in the strictest sense, the person filling out the form is the transferee and the one giving the cash is the buyer. if that’s how the form was, then yeah, it’d probably be thrown down in court.

            adding that they state that “transferee/buyer” is defined as…blah blah blah.. not so much. It’d be like changing the question to “Are you the zindquarp (made up word)?” and then having a defniition section where “Zindquarp is .

    • james beapukin

      Technically speaking its only a straw purchase if the person isn’t legally allowed to possess that weapon.

      You are incorrect. Unless you can convince the Supreme Court of the US otherwise:

  • Jeff Smith

    True story: I once purchased a handgun with the intent of giving it to a (then current) girlfriend, but then realized there was a decent chance of me getting shot with my own gun.

    Boy, would my face have been red.

    • iksnilol

      Lemme guess, she was crazy good…, so you realized that she must be actually crazy.

      • Jeff Smith

        Haha, she was a sweet girl, but she had a temper that apparently only I was able to bring out.

        Long story short, if you’re going to let someone have your gun, make sure they don’t do something stupid with it, like shooting you.

        • iksnilol

          Nothing says “I love you” like a gaping flesh wound, and talk about bringing the spark back in a stale relationship.

          Because if they hate you/are mad at you they go for the face and gut.

          • Aaron E

            Or sometimes just a little bit lower …

    • FourString

      Yep, Exes can be crazy x.x

  • Barry

    Keep it in the family and give them on significant days. Anything else is just asking for trouble.

  • Sorry guys…

    You may want to re-read the article. The issue isn’t discounts and straw purchases. The government is not allowed to take free stuff and its employees are certainly not allowed to use their official positions to solicit personal discounts and free goodies nor is an agency allowed to use their procurement channels for the benefit of individuals.

    • Steve (TFB Editor)

      I was not trying imply that it was. As a general rule, don’t buy guns for other people. Help them buy guns, but don’t actually do the buying.

  • SeanSorrentino

    Here’s the problem. It’s not cool to use your government position to get freebies and discounts. That’s corruption and should be punished.

    As for him buying guns for other people, were they prohibited persons? Did he give guns to people who could not legally own them? If not, then no problem.

    Punish him for corruption, not for violating a stupid law that’s currently under review by the Supreme Court.

    • Hopsaregood

      So, employees cannot take freebies but Congress can take from lobbyists all day long, wink, wink. BHOzombie and his funds take all day long. Oh, they are pols and our leaders, it is okay. Sorry.

  • bbmg

    I didn’t get the “straw purchase” image pun initially, my first thought was “HAY! Don’t buy guns for your friends!”

  • DIR911911 .

    so someone with a FAMS discount bought guns for others who are FAMS employees, whats the problem?

    • gunslinger

      civilian employees who wouldn’t get that discount as they are not in the LEO portion of the FAMS?

      • chrismalllory

        LEOs are civilians.

        • gunslinger

          True. But doesnt Leo get special discounts too?

  • clinton notestine

    I dont even like to buy guns with friends with me

    • Kris Moore

      Interestingly enough I also choose to not buy friends when armed.

  • Kris Moore

    why does it seem to me on the transfer form it specifically asks if you are the intended owner, not if you are buying it for someone else but “wink wink” they are not a felon.

    • Yes it does –very first question—you answer yes and you are certainly screwed. It doesn’t matter if the person you buy a gun for is legal in owning one. It’s the act of buying it for another person.

  • Patrick Karmel Shamsuddoha

    So when does buying a gun, taking possession of that gun and then selling that gun not count as a private sale ??? Like if I bought a gun on gun broker, got the gun and didn’t like it and I turn around and privately sell it to a friend who does is that a straw purchase (maybe not a straw purchase but a violation of the forms) ??

    What if the time frame it two weeks, two days, two hours??

    • Patrick Karmel Shamsuddoha

      Btw I ask this for my own knowledge.

      • E-man

        To my knowledge it is *intent*. Did you buy the gun from gunbroker with the intent of selling it? if so, then it might be a straw purchase. I say might based on some of the other comments on here stating that it’s only a straw purchase if the end receiver isn’t allowed to buy a gun. However, when it was explained to me, a straw purchase is where you buy for someone else, period.

        So, if you bought it, got it, didn’t like it, and then decided to flip it – to my knowledge – this is not a straw purchase. If you bought it with the intent to sell it (perhaps to a specific individual already) – this may be a straw purchase.

        • gunslinger

          i think it also has to fit into a pattern.

          buy a gun online…turn around the next day and sell to friend. looks funny. if you’ve done it 3 times in the last 2 months. even more so. post on FB about getting a gun for your friend. BIG NO-NO.

          unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule. because once they say “it’s 4 guns in a 6 week period” you’d have people buy the 4 guns, wait 6 weeks and buy more. with the ‘intent’ word the feds can make the argument, in that you’ve done this consistantly over the course of therefore you must have been intending to sell, as there is a pattern.

  • JLR84

    Or if you’re going to make use of some sort of exclusive discount, at least transfer the firearm through an FFL. While that may or may not still be unethical depending on your point of view, at least you’re not on the hook for a potential unlawful transfer.

  • Nimrod

    Wow, kind of story that makes you think that there is some sort of corruption going on. Upon reflection it looks like this is just a knee jerk reaction and witch hunt against the agency by someone who is trying to play gotcha and/or thinks no one should have guns. This guy was buying guns legally through a LE discount program and using the FFL through his agency to transfer them. Illegal? No. Questionable? Maybe by someone out to get the guy. Unethical? I don’t think so. It happens in every law enforcement agency in some manner. Law enforcement discounts are common and in my 34 years in LE I didn’t know any LE who wouldn’t use their discount for a friend or relative. It didn’t cost the agency, government or taxpayers anything. Did he convert agency guns for his own use? Apparently not. The free guns thing may be questionable but I haven’t looked at the circumstances and conditions on how they were given.

    • dude

      Really, I think this is it. If Agent A is purchasing the guns at the SIG’s LEO rate and transferring/selling them using the agency’s FFL to process the 4473, it doesn’t necessarily pass the smell test. Let’s wait for the full facts of the matter to come out; this is what IG’s are for.

      FWIW, I do think using a manufacturer’s LEO pricing program to get discounted guns for resale is unethical. They discount the weapons as 1) advertising to the officer, 2) advertising to anyone who sees the gun in his holster, and 3) to try to get you what they think is the best tool to send you home at night. There’s an inherent agreement to this that you will use the gun at work, at least within your agency’s policy. To immediately resell it IS questionable.

  • Fruitbat44

    Being investigated isn’t the same thing as being guilty and, as always, it’s worthwhile waiting for all the facts to come out before making a concrete judgement.
    However . . .
    It’s possible this is a case of someone thinking something’s a perk of the job e.g. “Hey, my good buddy, I can get you a gun at a discount!” Which someone else calls corruption e.g. using a discount for purposes it was not intended for.
    But we’ll see what it all looks like once all the dust has settled.

  • Michael

    Are there restrictions on reselling Glock Blue Label guns?

  • Hopsaregood

    He just figured that being on Obamas team allowed him to violate the law just as Obama does. Guess Heinrich Holder will go after him. If he has anything on BHO though, he will be safe.

  • Leigh Rich

    Obamais pushing to have all guns sold go thru a FFL. Even sold to friends or family.

  • chrismalllory

    Unless they are in the military, all government employees, including cops, are civilians.