A Brooklyn man recently charged with trafficking firearms from Atlanta and Pittsburgh to New York was recorded bragging to a friend that in Georgia, his actions were legal.
"When I’m out of state, like in Atlanta and Georgia and all that, it’s all legal, but New York, it’s completely illegal," said 33-year-old Michael Bassier on phone tape released by the Brooklyn District Attorney.
Bassier was one of eight people, including two from Georgia, arrested by the New York Police Department in a recent bust that netted 112 guns, including pistols and assault rifles.
Nero Priester with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms Atlanta Division says Bassier is referring to straw purchasing, when a gun is bought legally by someone who then passes it on for profit.
Firearms investigators in New York said Bassier allegedly enlisted people in the Atlanta area to buy firearms legally from gun stores, pawn shops and other dealers.
They say Bassier would then transport them to New York and sell them for profit. Priester says no, that's not legal, but there's also little that can be done to prevent it.
"There is no way to proactively investigate this. It's more of a reactive thing," said Priester.
In Georgia, if you buy from a licensed gun dealer, you fill out a form saying the firearm is for yourself or meant as a gift. In a private sale between two individuals in the state, no paperwork is required.
"If I'm a resident of Georgia, and I sell my gun to another resident of Georgia, that's not illegal. Only if the person is prohibited [from owning a firearm]. And really, there's no requirement for me to check that, that person is prohibited," said Priester.
Selling across state lines is where the law, said Priester, depending on the state, gets broken. He said the best way for a private citizen to sell a firearm is to take to a federally licensed dealer, where they will run a background check and make a record of the transaction, for a fee.
"But there's no requirement to do that," said Priester. Georgia is consistently one of the top source states for guns used in crimes in other states.