Law & the Courts

The Corner

San Bernardino Killers’ Friend to Be Charged

The Washington Post suggests that the man who bought the rifles for the San Bernardino killers will be charged with a crime:

Authorities have said Marquez purchased two assault rifles in 2011 and 2012 that were used in the shooting that killed 14 people. The charges against him could include knowingly making a false statement in connection with the purchase of a firearm, a crime that carries a maximum of 10 years in prison, according to senior law enforcement officials. 

Law enforcement authorities searched Marquez’s home on Dec. 5, three days after the deadliest terrorist assault on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001. At the time, Marquez was not charged with a crime, and officials said he was cooperating with the investigation.

What form this prosecution eventually takes will depend upon the timing and the intent of the transfers. As the Post notes, California has the “universal background check” system that politicians are always promising will “stop” mass shootings:

California law states that transferring gun ownership from one person to another must be done by a registered dealer. Exemptions include transfers from a parent to an adult child or transfers between spouses.

Clearly, Marquez ignored this rule. As such, there are two possible options here:

  1. Marquez deliberately bought the guns with the intent to give them to another person. In this case, he’d be guilty of both a “straw man” purchase and of illegally transferring a firearm.
  2. Marquez initially bought the guns for himself but then subsequently decided to sell them or to give them away. In this case, he’d be guilty only of illegally transferring a firearm. 

Depending on what investigators find, Marquez may find himself facing even more serious charges than those:

The charges against him could include knowingly making a false statement in connection with the purchase of a firearm, a crime that carries a maximum of 10 years in prison, according to senior law enforcement officials. 

And it should go without saying that if Marquez was actively involved in some way, he’s toast. This, however, seems unlikely:

If Marquez knew at the time when he transferred the rifles to Farook that they were going to be used for a violent act . . . he could be charged with a federal felony, law enforcement officials told The Washington Post last week. Authorities said previously that they do not think Marquez had any direct knowledge of the later plot by Farook and Malik.

Stay tuned.

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