Lauren M. had a bright future in front of her. But she was ruthlessly killed by an ex-boyfriend with a dangerous criminal past. “It’s extremely sad … I cried when I found out about Lauren’s death,” said Nathan V.
Yet, it was Nathan who provided the ex-boyfriend with the gun to carry out his crime. In a Utah court room, Nathan pleaded guilty to lying during his purchase of the firearm used to kill Lauren.
Nathan told a Utah judge that he allegedly didn’t know the killer was a convicted felon who couldn’t own a gun. A friend of Nathan’s said, “If there’s any fault to Nate, it’s that he’s too trusting. He trusted the wrong person, and that’s why he’s here.”
The killer had approached Nathan about borrowing his gun last year in exchange for $200. He told Nathan that he wanted to teach his friend how to shoot and so Nathan gave him his gun.
Truth is, Nathan should have been wary of the ex-boyfriend. Obviously, if someone can’t legally buy a firearm, there’s typically a good reason for it.
The fact is, 40% of criminals who use a firearm to commit crime get the firearm from a family member or friend. So, here are a few things to consider next time someone asks you to lend them a firearm.
Loan vs. Gift: While I’m not a lawyer, there is a big difference in loaning a firearm versus gifting someone a firearm. If it is a permanent gift, then generally it can only be transferred to an in-state resident.
If it is a temporary loan, say for someone to take to the range or to try carrying to see if they like it, then you have to make sure they are not a prohibited person. (not a convicted felon)
Depending on what state you live in, you cannot knowingly loan a firearm to anyone who:
Is an unlawful user of illegal drugs… has a domestic violence related conviction… is a convicted felon… or has been involuntarily mentally committed for psychological treatment.
At the end of the day, do you truly know all these answers about your friends?
Federal and State Laws: federal law prohibits convicted felons from possessing firearms. But, federal law also prohibits people convicted of a family violence offense (even misdemeanors) from possessing a firearm.
And depending on where you live, lending or transferring ownership of a gun may be regulated in your state. Many states have vastly different gun laws.
For instance, your friend may be legally able to possess a gun in Utah, but not on a Nevada hunt. Make sure you know what you’re getting into before lending your gun to someone taking it out of state.
Gray area: Some states impose only relatively minor penalties on people who provide weapons to criminals. Other states pin the liability for any damage caused by a firearm on the weapon’s owner.
In these states, it doesn’t matter whether the owner lent the gun to a felon or a person without any criminal past. To be safe, either never loan guns or contact a lawyer in your state before loaning someone a firearm.
At the end of the day, you could be putting yourself in more jeopardy than it’s worth.