When there is a crime involving a gun in Pittsburgh, often police will investigate whether someone other than the suspect is the named owner of the gun. In those cases, the titular owner can face serious weapons charges, even if he or she had nothing to do with the crime.
In an example from another state, there was a shooting on Dec. 24 that fatally injured two volunteer firefighters. Now a woman is facing gun charges in connection with that incident. Authorities say the woman acted as a straw buyer for the accused shooter, who committed suicide after the shooting. She has also been charged with falsifying business records. The federal charge includes a possible sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The accused woman lived next door to the man in 2008. In June 2010, she purchased a semi-automatic rifle and a shotgun at a sporting goods store. Investigators say those were the same guns used in the shooting. The accused shooter was convicted of killing his grandmother and was on parole when he met the former neighbor, so he was not legally allowed to own or possess firearms.
The suspect told authorities that the man had helped her shop for the guns but that they were for her own protection. They claim that she later admitted that she had bought them for the man.
She has been charged with acting as a straw buyer of firearms for a convicted felon and with falsifying business records for allegedly writing on a purchase form that the guns were for herself.
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Gunman's former neighbor faces charges in deaths of firefighters," Richard A. Serrano, Dec. 29, 2012