As the International Criminal Police Organization or Interpol, an international organization that facilitates worldwide police cooperation and crime control notes, “Small arms and light weapons are easy for criminals to conceal and transport, so trafficking in firearms is a lucrative business which, in turn, fuels and funds other types of serious crimes.” While many people might support an effort to prohibit the underground sale of firearms, others criticize Texas law for being overly broad with how it approaches firearm smuggling.
As currently constructed, it is often possible for otherwise innocent people to face firearm smuggling charges for certain activities that bore no resemblance to smuggling operations. While firearm smuggling is often prosecuted in federal courts, there are certain offenses under state law that can lead to alleged offenders having to appear in state courts.
If you were arrested for an alleged firearm smuggling crime in Dallas, you will want to get yourself real help right away. Know that The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy handles all kinds of gun cases and can fight to make sure you face the fewest penalties possible.
Our firm can work hard to present the most favorable possible case in court. We will be able to sit down with you and really talk about your case when you call (817) 422-5350 or contact us online to receive a free consultation.
Texas Penal Code § 46.14 establishes that a person commits a firearm smuggling offense if the person knowingly engages in the business of transporting or transferring a firearm that the person knows was acquired in violation of the laws of any state or of the United States. For purposes of this subsection, a person is considered to engage in the business of transporting or transferring a firearm if the person engages in that conduct on more than one occasion; or for profit or any other form of remuneration.
This section does not apply to a peace officer who is engaged in the actual discharge of an official duty. If conduct that constitutes an offense under this section also constitutes an offense under any other law, the actor may be prosecuted under this section, the other law, or both.
Keep in mind that Texas Penal Code § 46.06 states that a person commits an unlawful transfer of certain weapons offense if the person:
A person may transfer a firearm to an unlicensed resident of their state, provided the transferor does not know or have reasonable cause to believe the transferee is prohibited from receiving or possessing firearms under federal law. There may be state laws that regulate intrastate firearm transactions. A person considering transferring a firearm should contact their State Attorney General’s Office to inquire about the laws and possible state or local restrictions.
Generally, for a person to lawfully transfer a firearm to an unlicensed person who resides out of state, the firearm must be shipped to a federal firearms licensee (FFL) within the transferee’s state of residence. The transferee may then receive the firearm from the FFL upon completion of an ATF Form 4473 and a NICS background check.
A person may loan or rent a firearm to a resident of any state for temporary use for lawful sporting purposes, if they do not know or have reasonable cause to believe the person is prohibited from receiving or possessing firearms under federal law. Another exception is provided for transfers of firearms to nonresidents to carry out a lawful bequest or acquisition by intestate succession. This exception would authorize the transfer of a firearm to a nonresident who inherits a firearm under the will of a decedent.
A person may transfer a firearm to a licensee in any state. However, a firearm other than a curio or relic may not be transferred interstate to a licensed collector.
Firearm smuggling is typically a third-degree felony punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and/or up to 10 years in state jail. However, an offense involving three or more firearms in a single criminal episode is a second-degree felony punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and/or up to 20 years in state jail.
Keeping in mind that Texas allows for individuals to face other criminal charges, a person could also be accused of unlawful carrying weapons, unlawful possession of firearm by felon, or unlawful transfer of certain weapons. The severity of these criminal charges can vary.
Unlawful carrying weapons under Texas Penal Code § 46.02 is a Class A misdemeanor, but an offense is a third-degree felony if the offense is committed on any premises licensed or issued a permit by this state for the sale of alcoholic beverages. It is also a Class C misdemeanor if the alleged offender intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carries on or about his or her person a location-restricted knife, is younger than 18 years of age at the time of the offense; and is not on the person’s own premises or premises under the person’s control; inside of or directly en route to a motor vehicle or watercraft that is owned by the person or under the person’s control; or under the direct supervision of a parent or legal guardian of the person.
With unlawful possession of firearm by felon, the crime is a third-degree felony if a person who has been convicted of a felony possesses a firearm after conviction and before the fifth anniversary of the person’s release from confinement following conviction of the felony or the person’s release from supervision under community supervision, parole, or mandatory supervision, whichever date is later; or after the period described by Subdivision (1), at any location other than the premises at which the person lives.
This same crime is a Class A misdemeanor if a person who has been convicted of an offense under Section 22.01, punishable as a Class A misdemeanor and involving a member of the person’s family or household, possesses a firearm before the fifth anniversary of the later of the date of the person’s release from confinement following conviction of the misdemeanor; or the date of the person’s release from community supervision following conviction of the misdemeanor. A person, other than a peace officer, actively engaged in employment as a sworn, full-time paid employee of a state agency or political subdivision, who is subject to an order issued under Section 6.504 or Chapter 85, Family Code, under Article 17.292 or Subchapter A, Chapter 7B, Code of Criminal Procedure, or by another jurisdiction as provided by Chapter 88, Family Code, commits a Class A misdemeanor offense if the person possesses a firearm after receiving notice of the order and before expiration of the order.
For unlawful transfer of certain weapons, the crime is a Class A misdemeanor except when a person intentionally or knowingly sells, rents, leases, or gives or offers to sell, rent, lease, or give to any child younger than 18 years of age any firearm, club, or location-restricted knife. In such case, the crime is a state jail felony.
Firearms, Ammunition, and Explosives Smuggling Investigations — As the primary federal law enforcement agency responsible for investigating international smuggling operations and enforcing U.S. export laws, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is committed to combating illegal firearms, ammunition and explosives smuggling activities that fuel violence both domestically and abroad. HSI fulfills this commitment by relying on the agency’s extensive legal authorities and unique expertise in conducting illegal export and contraband smuggling investigations. HSI firearms, ammunition, and explosives smuggling investigations have resulted in unprecedented bi-lateral interdictions, investigations and information-sharing activities that identify, disrupt, and dismantle transnational criminal networks operating within the United States, Mexico, Canada, Central America, the Caribbean, and around the World.
Best Practices: Transfers of Firearms by Private Sellers — View a manual from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). It discusses what constitutes lawful transfers by private sellers as well as prohibited practices. You can also find transaction alternatives for private sellers.
Were you arrested or do you think that you could be under investigation for firearm smuggling in Dallas or another community in Dallas County? You are going to want to be quick to retain legal counsel.