Tough lesson in gun buying

When Amaya Hanshaw graduated from Avondale High School in 2001, she joined the Air Force under the GI Bill so she could pay for college. Hanshaw completed basic training in Biloxi, Miss. In 2002, she was transferred to the Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas.

Hanshaw was honorably discharged this spring and is now entitled to $1,000 monthly from the government to help earn a college degree. She hopes to start studying health care administration at Georgia State University in January. But instead, the 21-year-old from Norcross might be starting a prison sentence.

Shortly after Hanshaw was transferred to the Texas base, she became friendly with her neighbor, Chaddrick Williams. In early 2002, Hanshaw and Williams went on their first date. A year later, they had a son.

While Hanshaw was pregnant, Williams was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon, according to court documents. He received nine years of probation and was dishonorably discharged from the Navy.

From then on, the couple's relationship was rocky, though Hanshaw did try to bring their son to visit Williams every week.

Hanshaw says that in early 2004, Williams asked her to help him buy a gun. She says he explained that he was ineligible because he was on probation, but that he and his roommates were in some trouble and wanted a gun to "flash."

Although she refused at first, Hanshaw says she was convinced when Williams told her, "If I die, it'll be your fault because I didn't even have protection."

The two went to a local pawnshop and Hanshaw purchased two pistols in her name. The guns went home with Williams. Hanshaw says she didn't realize that buying a gun for someone who's barred from owning one is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Yet at the time of purchase, she signed a federal form that states, in bold: "Warning. You are not the actual buyer if you are acquiring the firearm(s) on behalf of another person." Two pages later, the form specifies that someone can buy a firearm as a gift for another person, but not for someone who's federally prohibited from carrying one.

A few months later, Williams robbed a bank on the Goodfellow base with one of the guns Hanshaw purchased. That afternoon, the FBI called to ask Hanshaw to come to the base for questioning. When Hanshaw arrived, she was read her Miranda rights.

Her public defender says she has two options: She could plead guilty and hope to serve a year or less in prison, or she could plead not guilty and face conspiracy charges, which carry an even longer sentence.

The irony is that under current federal regulations, Williams likely could have purchased a gun himself from a private seller at one of the 400 gun shows that take place in Texas yearly. The federal law exempts certain gun show sellers from requiring buyers to fill out the form that Hanshaw did.

Hanshaw will enter her plea in federal court in Texas on July 28.??

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