The City of Philadelphia is suing three local gun stores for allegedly knowingly selling firearms to straw purchasers. That’s when someone purchases firearms intending to illegally transfer them to someone else or to re-sell on the criminal gun market. The Philadelphia stores named in the lawsuit are Frank’s Gun Shop & Shooting Range and Delia’s Gun Shop in Northeast Philadelphia, and Tanner’s Sports Center in Bucks County.
City officials allege these three shops "recklessly and repeatedly engaged" in straw purchasing transactions and are the source of more than 1,300 guns that have been recovered from crimes from 2015 to 2019.
"Our administration is committed to using every possible legal means to stop the flow of illegal guns into our streets," said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney in a press conference Tuesday.
Kenney has long cited Pennsylvania’s gun laws as a reason why he is unable to combat ongoing gun violence in the city. Under state law, people 21 and older may apply for a license to carry firearms concealed on their person or in a vehicle. Anyone who does not have a valid and lawful license is committing a felony.
Photos and shoes of gun violence victims at an anti-gun rally on the Art Museum steps on June 11, 2018. (Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
The lawsuit is also seeking financial compensation for damages. Officials say this is to address the “harms caused by gun violence in our communities,” though the amount being sought in the civil lawsuit is not yet clear.
NBC10 contacted Tom Helenski of Tanner’s Sports Center on Tuesday who said he didn’t know about the lawsuit. "I don't believe that's true," he said.
How can a gun retailer stop straw purchases? A similar conversation is taking place in Minnesota. Check out this article for more on straw purchases of firearms.