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How a Colonial Heights gun seller plans to curb trend of straw purchases

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. -- For 43 years, Dance's Sporting Goods in Colonial Heights has sold plenty of guns, but with the job comes with a big responsibility.

"We're in the business to sell guns but we want to sell them to the right people," said store president Marlon Dance.

Recently store owners and employee of the Colonial Heights gun store have noticed a disturbing trend.

“We've seen a rise in potential straw purchases," said Dance.

A straw purchase is a federal crime when a buyer purchases a gun for someone who is unable or unwilling to purchase the gun themselves.

In recent weeks, Dance says the illegal purchases have become obvious.

"Sometimes we have people on phones and if you can see, we now have "no video stickers" on the counters," said Dance. "So, you can’t be FaceTiming looking at guns and somebody else, somewhere else, picking out the gun that they want."

"Some people standing around looking at different guns, somebody walks away, somebody gives somebody some money and we can see the transfer of the money, none of these things are going to work," he added.

It's gotten so bad recently that the store owners met with their employees and agreed to err on the side of caution.

"We have just made the decision that if we feel like it is a straw purchase, for any reason whatsoever, then we're not going to sell the firearm," said Dance.

And it’s not just attempted straw purchases that store employees have to be aware of. They also have to make sure buyers show no signs of alcohol or marijuana use.

The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia says stopping straw purchases of firearms is “a key priority.”

"We will continue to aggressively pursue all those that unlawfully procure firearms for others," they added.

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