Friday, January 15, 2016

UPDATED: Anti-Gun Comedian Makes Straw Purchase on Video?

Steve Hofstetter, a comedian made on YouTube fame, may have committed gun-buying shenanigans at the January 10th, 2016 Henderson Gun Show. It appears that he induced his fellow comedian Brent Mukai to commit a straw purchase when Hofstetter himself was the one interested in the gun and wanted it for his video. Not shown on video is whether or not the buyer, Mukai, handed the gun over to Hofstetter, and what the exact nature of the transfer was. According to the heavily edited video, Hofstetter provided the money to purchase the firearm on behalf of Mukai and additionally offered to compensate Mukai with a steak dinner for his trouble.

Hofstetter made the video for YouTube, which can be viewed here, but you probably shouldn’t watch it just to deny him the satisfaction of the view count going up.

Nevada Carry has contacted the ATF and asked them to investigate the matter. The uncut video would likely shed more light on exactly what happed. Most likely, there is enough gray area to avoid any legal charges, but its definitely shady and I doubt the dealer involved in the sale would be happy with their 'appearance.'

Lots of things are wrong with what Hofstetter alleged in his video. Frankly, if you are ignorant enough to get the basics wrong, you really shouldn't have an opinion on the topic. In Nevada, the Department of Public Safey Point-of-Contact center (POC) conducts the background checks, not the FBI NICS call center.

The buying an apartment/house analogy doesn’t hold water either.  Apparently, passing a background check run through federal and state law enforcement databases and completing the ATF Form 4473 is ‘too easy.’ I’m sure that if landlords and banks had computerized databases on all the information they need, buyers/renters would be approved faster and we might have avoided the 2008 recession. Scratch that last one, I saw The Big Short.

Purchasing an apartment requires use of private background check and credit check resources that are not as comprehensive as law enforcement records and also take longer. The best indication of future performance is by checking references; a new landlord has to call old landlords to verify this. The government doesn’t have a database of people who pay their rent late and trash apartments; it does have a database of people who shouldn’t own guns.

Businesses, such as a leasing company, also has interests that a the federal government does not. Renting an apartment is also not a constitutional right that is being eroded daily.

Bringing a dog in to a restaurant (in this case, BJs on Eastern in Henderson, which is gun friendly) rejected the comedians non-service dog from entering. A dog that is not trained, like a service dog is, can cause a lot of problems in a restaurant. I’ll leave that to your imagination. Brining your dog with you everywhere is also not a constitutional right. And for Hofstetter’s sake, let’s hope he was only kidding about having ‘his’ gun on him because I didn’t see that it was openly carried and I doubt that he has a concealed firearm permit.

I really wonder why ‘comedians’ and liberals think it’s okay to abuse logic, facts, and break the law (actually or implied) to try and prove their point. What did Hofstetter prove here? That he bought a gun at a gun show and had a background check done? Maybe he should have went to a private seller if he was trying to make a point. That Nevada and its businesses respects the people’s right to self-defense? That being able to pay a mortgage or rent on time has nothing to do with whether or not someone is prohibited from buying firearms?

Finally, Hofstetter leaves the 'gun' in a box on the sidewalk along the Strip. Though the box was probably empty, implying they left it on the street was insultingly stupid.  

Hofstetter engaged in legally dubious activities to make a poorly articulated point, in a pretty childish and unfunny manner. Like most liberal anti-gun personalities, Hofstetter ignored most of the facts and legalities to suit his own warped opinions. Such a disingenuous video and obvious disregard for reality invalidates whatever argument he might have been trying to make. If you can’t argue honestly, you’re probably wrong. Despite his assurances that he does support the Second Amendment, such behavior indicates he does not.

Mr. Hofstetter, please stay the hell out of Nevada and our business.

Update 1/18/20: Based on tips by Nevada Carry and others, our sources report that the ATF has begun an investigation into this matter. We don't have official confirmation of that yet. Hofstetter is denying any criminal activity:

The criminal elements here are up to the ATF to determine, but it definitely appears that this little stunt was not well thought out and now Hofstetter is backpedaling to explain himself. Chances are, no charges will be filed against Hofstetter et al but if the ATF is willing to investigate a video by a comedian, then clearly enforcing gun laws isn't quite the problem the anti-gunners are making it out to be.

Here's what Nevada attorney Ben Bunker has to say about straw purchases.

-G. C.


  1. I agree, stay out then. We do not need your Liberal California comedy here.

  2. If you watched my video with an open mind, thank you. But for those who made up their mind before they pressed play (or commented without watching at all), let me help explain what the video was meant to show.

    Every day, we navigate a world filled with government regulations designed to protect us from ourselves and each other, and we are FINE with it. Except when it comes to guns.

    The laws I showed about houses, cars, animals - those make sense, right? So if we can introduce gun legislation that STILL allows responsible people to own guns but lowers the number of irresponsible gun owners, wouldn't that be a great thing? That is what I want to work towards.

    The reason I made viewers think I'd just leave the gun on the street and walk away was to give everyone a moment of panic (those who think I actually left it there clearly didn't watch the whole video. That was an empty box, BTW - I'm not stupid). The reason it'd be horrific to leave a gun on a street is because then the gun could fall into the hands of someone not responsible enough to use it properly. And that is what the current law allows for every day.

    So what is the solution? If we simply had to register our guns like we do our cars, houses, and animals, straw purchases wouldn't be deterred, they'd be almost impossible. And this should be regulated at the federal level (not the state) so that people can't just drive a few hours to get around the law. When you prevent irresponsible people from buying guns, that rewards the responsible gun owners. Unless you're an irresponsible gun owner, I don't see a reason why you wouldn't support this.

    There have been plenty of people who disagreed with me that remained civil, and I appreciate that. But for those of you threatening to shoot me over this, thank you for making my point for me.

    1. Dear Reader, please forgive the legal speak- I wanted to be exact. Please forgive the length- I wanted to be thorough. Please forgive the excess detail- I wanted to show the ugly truth that has been perpetrated under the mask of comedy.

      Hofstetter clearly states in his video at around 0:31 that he gave Mukai, a Nevada resident, the money to buy the gun for him. In his remarks on the youtube video page, he states that Mukai did purchase the weapon and presently possesses it. They further show that a background check on Mukai was performed. This is done subsequent to the completion of Form 4473.

      As the United States Supreme Court has recently upheld in Abramski v. United States, 134 S. Ct. 2259 (2014), falsely checking “Yes,” to the question 11.a “Are you the actual transferee/buyer of the firearm(s) listed on this form?” constitutes a breach of 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(b). Abramski, Mukai, and anyone else who knowingly makes a false statement to, intentionally deceives, and lies about a material fact to a firearms dealer is guilty. Mr. Abramski is presently enjoying five years of probation after paying a $200 fine for checking “Yes,” to that question.

      There are two ways to address this issue, and only two, per 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(b) and its resultant Form 4473. Either Hofstetter has given the firearm as a gift to Mukai, or Mukai has performed a straw purchase for Hofstetter. The facts, in conjunction with the instructions for Question 11.a included on the form, shall disclose the truth.

      Hofstetter leaves no doubt as to who is paying for the firearm, he acknowledges that it is his money and Mukai is his proxy. If he had wished to give the firearm as a gift to Mukai, the instructions for the form state, “However, if Mr. Brown [Hofstetter] goes to buy a firearm with his own money to give to Mr. Black [Mukai] as a present, Mr. Brown [Hofstetter] is the actual transferee/buyer of the firearm and should answer “YES” to question 11.a.” In other words, Hofstetter had to fill out the form and then legally transfer the weapon to Mukai. As Hofstetter did not complete the form, but suborned Mukai to purchase a weapon using Hofstetter’s money, perhaps enlightenment may be had by the other portion of the instructions for Question 11.

      “Mr. Smith [Hofstetter] asks Mr. Jones [Mukai] to purchase a firearm for Mr. Smith [Hofstetter]. Mr. Smith [Hofstetter] gives Mr. Jones [Mukai] the money for the firearm. If Mr. Jones [Mukai] fills out Form 4473, he violates the law by falsely stating that he is the actual buyer of the firearm. Mr. Smith also violates the law because he has unlawfully aided and abetted or caused the making of false statements on the form.” Put differently, when Hofstetter gives money for the purchase of a firearm to Mukai, he provides him with the financial consideration necessary to constitute a contract for the purchase of the weapon. At no time does he have to specifically state what he wants, his actions create the understanding that was explicitly stated at the beginning of the video. Mukai then criminally makes a false statement as in Abramski, above, and Hofstetter has played a criminal role in the deception regarding a material fact. 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(b) and Form 4473 leave no other interpretations.

    2. As a hypothetical, Hofstetter might say, “I never received the weapon, I have publicly stated it is with Mukai.” To finalize the conclusion of a straw purchase, note well that Question 11.a reads “You are not the actual buyer if you are acquiring the firearm(s) on behalf of another person.” As Hofstetter has directly stated, he provided the money for the purchase of the weapon and Mukai purchased it on his behalf. At no point on the form or in law does failure to complete the terms of an illegal contract to purchase a lethal weapon protect either party from conviction. It was either a gift, or a straw purchase- there is no gray area with dangerous and deadly weapons.

      The right to freedom of expression is not a sufficient affirmative defense to a criminal act. Hofstetter and Mukai have falsely provided the impression that one may simply drive across the border from California into Nevada and purchase guns. The rest of their comedy video shows the difficulties they encounter when attempting to legally acquire other commodities, and how much faster one can get things by breaking the law.

      Hofstetter’s comedy contains many insults. First, it insults Nevada “so that people [from California] can't just drive a few hours to get around the [California] law.” It is an insult to law abiding gun owners everywhere who do not engage in straw purchases and other criminal conduct. But, most importantly, by constantly cracking jokes and engaging in distracting behavior, Hofstetter and Mukai have made it appear that Paul Cesiro, owner of Paul’s Gun Room, was aware of and tolerated their straw purchase. The good folks of Paul’s Gun Room who steadfastly refused Hofstetter a Form 4473 and the sale of a gun have been made to appear criminally complicit in Hofstetter and Mukai’s illegal acts. They’re a small business working hard to obey the law, and they and every other Nevadan has been slapped in the face by these comedians. If you have the opportunity to patronize Mr. Cesiro’s business, which the video shows performed its due diligence, please give them a call at (702) 454-6437 and help support them while they have to produce Mukai’s Form 4473 and possibly retain defense counsel. As Hofstetter’s twitter post protesting his innocence attests, it was their goal to make Paul’s Gun Room look like they supported a straw purchase.

      Hofstetter’s point was not lost. He believes that prior restraint of a constitutionally protected right should be the standard. That’s a fine perspective to take, and it was protected speech up until it involved deceiving a government agency- which prefers post hoc punishments of offenders. While Hofstetter protests much that his critics are neither lawyers nor wrong, his own defense counsel is silent on the matter. Where is the well crafted legalese citing code, statute, and prior judicial decision bearing the name of any attorney? Surely these two didn’t simply decide to violate federal law and become a test-case without first retaining counsel. Hofstetter and Mukai have performed their acts and shown Californians how they can just drive a few hours and illegally acquire deadly weapons by performing a straw man purchase.

      Since their video “How Easy is it to Buy a Gun? (Hidden Camera)” has gone viral, it’s been reported on by local newspapers, the Huffington Post, Inside Edition, etc. Thankfully, there is a means by which we can stem the tides of those poor misled potential federal criminals. Some of whom might be successful using Hofstetter and Mukai’s methods. Those means are simple and direct: aggressive and vigorous enforcement of local, state, and federal laws following the Abramski ruling. In the same way they have casually violated the gun laws and encouraged criminal conduct, let them become a shining example of how we deal with those who engage in such mischief. Let the word go out far and wide that this conduct will not be tolerated, and make such a thorough example of these comedians that the joke is on them.

    3. That was wonderful! Thanks for sharing. Can we repost as a full blog article?

      And to our readers, these are the kinds of contributions we seek.

    4. Please do, with the deletion of the word 'twitter,' from the last sentence of the ninth paragraph. It was from his youtube page. My apologies.

      If you'd prefer, this is the slightly redacted version going out to law enforcement. Feel free to pull the Facts/Issue/Reasoning/Argument headers if you'd like.

      The widely publicized straw purchase of a firearm by Hofstetter and Mukai


      Several men make a video which appears to depict the straw sale of a firearm. The video goes viral and appears on Inside Edition, Huffington Post, Las Vegas Sun, various local TV, newspaper, and new media outlets. It is essentially a “how-to commit a firearm straw purchase,” video. However, at no point in the video do the men explicitly warn their audience that they are criminally obtaining a firearm. Hofstetter’s comments during the video mirror the example given in the instructions to Question 11.a on Form 4473:

      Mr. Smith asks Mr. Jones to purchase a firearm for Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith gives Mr. Jones the money for the firearm. Mr. Jones is NOT THE ACTUAL TRANSFEREE/BUYER of the firearm and must answer “NO” to question 11.a. The licensee may not transfer the firearm to Mr. Jones.

      The video is titled “How Easy is it to Buy a Gun? (Hidden Camera)”

      Is a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)6 and 924(a)(1)(A) alleviated for failure to transfer the firearm?


      Hofstetter didn’t give Mukai a sum of cash as a gift, loan, or for some other legal purpose. Mukai then didn’t incidentally purchase a firearm with that money. Four seconds into the video, Hofstetter clearly states “We are going to buy a gun.” Thirty-one seconds in and Hofstetter, after being refused a Form 4473 unambiguously says, “Then, he [Mukai] bought the gun with my money.” He further writes in a linked comment on the video page “Brent [Mukai] legally owns (and has) the gun.” This red herring attempts to argue that failure to transfer the firearm prevents criminal conduct. Abramski v. United States, 134 S. Ct. 2259 (2014) upholds guilt on the false statement violations of the USC, and possession is irrelevant. Intentional material misrepresentation is the offense in Abramski, not possession. Justice Kagan, delivering the opinion of the Supreme Court wrote:

      But Abramski’s false statement prevented the dealer from insisting that the true buyer (Alvarez) appear in person, provide identifying information, show a photo ID, and submit to a background check. §§922(b), (c), (t).

      If Mukai checked “Yes,” to Question 11.a form 4473 both he and Hofstetter- the actual buyer per the Abramski decision- have violated the law at issue. Hofstetter and Mukai purchased a firearm from the Western Trails Gun Show in Henderson, NV, on Sunday January 10, 2016 from Paul Cesiro, proprietor of Paul’s Gun Room. One may expect to find Mukai's Form 4473 on file with Paul's Gun Room.

      Argument for investigation.

      Hofstetter’s videotape evidence showing the commission of a crime and detailing the mechanism for performance of the same has been popularized. While the constitution protects the right of citizens to provide instruction in the performance of criminal activities, no such protection extends to anyone foolish enough to voluntarily furnish evidence of their guilt. Within the video, Hofstetter encourages straw purchases without warning they are a crime. The best way to exert a chilling effect on straw purchases is to enforce the laws against those who publicize and incite these criminal acts. This turns their marketing of crime into an advertisement against it, and is an effective use of resources to educate the public of the law and about the effective efforts taken by law enforcement.

  3. Mr. Hofstetter, what is it about the 2nd Amendment that makes it so different from the rest of the Bill of Rights?

    Why are excessive regulations on any constitutional right acceptable? The freedom of speech is extended to basically everything but child pornography, yelling "Fire!" in a crowed theater, or making death threats--and we're okay with that. Freedom of the press is limited only by libel and slander--and we're okay with that. Should we begin applying restrictions to who can speak freely, how they can make public their thoughts, or limit the kind of ideas they can share?

    What's an irresponsible gun owner? Anything like my definition of an irresponsible comedian? It's sock-puppet phrase; it takes on whatever meaning anti-gunners want it to. At its heart, an irresponsible gun owner is one who is unwilling to accept heavy restrictions on firearm ownership.

    And let's talk about responsible speech. What's that? Should we ban offensive jokes? Or maybe pass a law that says stupid people aren't entitled to opinions? Maybe we should keep irresponsible drivers off the road with laws against reckless, drunk, and unlicensed driving. Oh wait...

    Straw purchases wouldn't be deterred by registration. When Clark County had handgun registration, straw purchases still happened. In your fantasy world, the registered owner would also be fradulent. Not to mention black market gun sales would still happen, just like they do in countries where guns are illegal or heavily regulated.

    Mr. Hofstetter, based on your cavalier video, I doubt you support the 2nd Amendment. Furthermore, you don't understand why gun control is bad. People like me opposed gun control because we do not fundamentally trust or wish to rely upon the government. They cannot protect us constantly from the bad guys and may one day become the bad guys, as countless examples through history have shown. Just like in New York, New Jersey, and California gun control is abused to absurd extremes and violence is still not dampened.