Sunday, July 27, 2008

Anti-Straw Purchase Campaign Misses Mark

A recent television ad campaign starring Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham targets those individuals involved in straw purchases of handguns. In this scenario, a person who cannot purchase a weapon due to their ineligibility gets a proxy buyer to acquire the gun. The commercial states that the D.A. will prosecute any buyer of handguns that are used in crimes and homicides as if they were the ones who pulled the trigger. The campaign has been in heavy rotation for approximately a month and begs the question: is it actually working?

Authorities say that gun traffickers are targeting Pennsylvania, where a straw purchase can net a drug dealer a handgun in a half an hour. In New Jersey and New York, the process takes up to 3 weeks. Assistant District Attorney Albert Toczydlowski says the recent task force created in Pennsylvania is making 10 arrests a month, only a small fraction of actual offenders. In this respect, the anti-straw purchase campaign has been a complete failure.

Where the commercial seems to have had the most impact was on the sale of actual straws or drinking aides, including bendy, crazy, and traditional versions. The Straw Factory in Kensington, Pa. reported a drop of 75% in business from last year and five hundred layoffs as of June 2008.

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