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San Bernardino Gun Purchaser Appears in Court

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By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on December 21, 2015 2:59 PM

It's difficult to believe that it has already been several weeks since the mass-shooting in San Bernardino that took upwards of more than a dozen lives. Shootings have seemingly become so prevalent it's difficult to keep track of the shootings and the consequent numbers of victims.

However, the memory is still fresh enough in the public's mind to recall that the weapons used in the attack were all legitimately purchased, according to officials, through the use of 'straw man' Enrique Marquez. He faces up to 35 years in prison for a handful of charges including conspiracy to commit terrorism with Syed Rizwan Farook, the San Bernardino shooter.

"Flight Risk"

According to reports by the Associated Press, Marquez did not seem to be particularly disturbed by the charges being brought against him. At times he appeared relaxed and easy, and other times he simply seemed bored, staring at the ceiling. In any case, prosecutors have just argued that Marquez should be considered a flight risk and be held in detention given his potential danger to the community.

He was expected to enter pleadings on a variety of charges against him, but is currently taking advantage of the court's decision to delay the hearing so that he might confer with his defense attorneys.

Straw Man

At least one of the charges against Marquez revolves around his involvement in the purchase of the very weapons used in the December 2nd shooting. Generally, states have implemented laws that limit the sale of firearms to those with serious criminal backgrounds. Therefore, sales from shops to criminals are strongly regulated.

However, the sale or transfer of firearms from person to person is much less regulated (at least effectively). A "straw purchase" of a gun involves the purchase of of a gun by a buyer with the intent to eventually buy for another who cannot legally purchase the gun himself. The strategy of working around state and federal regulations through the use of straw men was condemned by SCOTUS last year.

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