United States v. Johnson

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 05-29-2012
  • Case #: 11-10290
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Graber for the Court; Circuit Judges Schroeder and O’Scannlain
  • Full Text Opinion

To obtain a conviction for knowingly making a false statement with respect to information required to be kept by a federally licensed firearms dealer under 18 U.S.C. § 924(a)(1)(A), the government need not prove that “the falsehood pertains to the lawfulness of the sale to the ultimate recipient.”

Timothy Russell Johnson was convicted of making a false statement with respect to information required to be kept by a federally licensed firearms dealer under 18 U.S.C. § 924(a)(1)(A). Johnson, who did not have a license to deal in firearms, bought numerous firearms from a store on two occasions, and transferred them to Miguel Pedroza shortly thereafter. On the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Form 4473, Johnson noted that he was the actual buyer from the store, contrary to the following warning: “You are not the actual buyer if you are acquiring the firearm(s) on behalf of another person.” Referencing case law involving convictions under 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(6), Johnson argued that under the “straw man doctrine,” the government must prove that the actual purchaser was ineligible to obtain a firearm, and that Johnson’s false statement enabled the ineligible purchaser to obtain a firearm. Under this reasoning, Johnson’s false claims would be “material” to the lawfulness of the sales only if the government proved that Pedroza, the actual purchaser, was ineligible to purchase firearms. However, the Court found that “§ 924(a)(1)(A) requires only that false statements be made with respect to information that is required to be kept by federally licensed firearms dealers.” False statements or representations do not “necessarily impl[y] a materiality element.” The government need only show that Johnson “knowingly made a false statement with respect to the information required under law to be kept by federally licensed firearms dealers.” Further, the district court properly found that Form 4473 constituted information required to be kept by licensed firearm dealers. AFFIRMED.

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