(WDHN) — State law officials are referring to straw purchasing — where someone legally buys a gun from a gun store and gives it to someone who isn’t legally allowed to have it in exchange for money or services.

“It’s one of the main avenues for criminals to get guns,” said Ashley Lightner. “It’s a nationwide problem that we see, we see it here in Alabama, across the state, and across the nation”

Lightner believes when straw purchasing happens — a person is trying to hide something.

Most times, a person may be banned from buying a gun due to criminal history but he says often, a person who can buy a gun with no problem may persuade another person to get the gun for them so their name is not attached to the transaction records.

“An individual may have nefarious intentions and committing a crime in the community or trafficking the firearm somewhere else which is a violation of law,” Lightner said.

If convicted, that violation could be 10 years of federal time and a $250,000 fine.

In the meantime, law agencies are proactive in public service the key to cracking down on the issue.

“Don’t lie for the other guy we got billboards and campaigns out there, we’re also working with our state partners, working with gun stores they are trying to do the right thing,”

Lightner said if you think you have participated in straw purchasing, it’s best to inform your local law enforcement.