Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Anti-Gunners!

By Dave Dolbee published on in Gun Rights, Legal Issues, News, NRA

The Supreme Court just made staying on the right side of the law a lot more difficult for gun owners. In a controversial decision, the high court ruled in favor of gun control groups and the Obama Administration. The decision settles the often-contradictory lower court rulings handed down by the Federal Appeals courts.

Justices Elena Kagan, Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor in the majority were in the majority in which the court attempted to broaden the definition of a straw purchase.

Supreme Court Justices

In a 5-4 decision the Supreme Court voted to broaden the definition of straw purchase.

The case was based on a purchase by a former police officer. Bruce Abramski purchased a GLOCK handgun with a law enforcement discount in his home state of Virginia. While filling out ATF Form 4473, Bruce Abramski answered question 11a. “Are you the actual transferee/buyer of the firearm(s) listed on this form? Warning: You are not the actual buyer if you are acquiring the firearm(s) on behalf of another person. If you are not the actual buyer, the dealer cannot transfer the firearm(s) to you.” stating he was the actual buyer.

The actual definition of a purchaser have the courts divided. For instance, the court allows a person to buy a firearm with the intention of giving it as a gift, or to buy it for the purposes of a raffle without being considered a straw purchase. Abramski’s case was different, however, in that the uncle—Bruce Abramski later transferred the firearm to—had sent him a check with GLOCK 19 written in the memo a few days before the actual firearm purchase.

Therefore, the issue at hand was whether the statement was material to a sale that would otherwise be lawful—neither the buyer nor uncle had any legal restrictions that would have prevented them from owning the GLOCK. The Obama Administration stated that Abramski did not act within the letter and spirit of the law, claiming the action was necessary to ensure accurate record keeping to later trace the weapon. However, Form 4473 is not supposed to be a weapon registration. It is merely a record of an over-the-counter firearm transaction with a secondary purpose of obtaining the necessary information for a background check.

Gun rights advocates charge the Administration’s position is a massive overreach. Their contention states this improperly defines a law (straw purchase) that is meant to prevent illegal purchases, or legal purchases that would then be handed over to individuals who could not legally purchase or possess the weapon, and applies it to two individuals who can legally purchase and own the firearm. It is not much of a stretch to say this is a backhanded attempt to weaken legal transfers under what the anti-gunners have dubbed the Gun Show Loophole.

Accordingly, legal scholars state the ruling is not an affront to the Second Amendment. In recent years, the Supreme Court has clarified other cases and laws, which has had the effect of broadening the definition of an individual’s right to bear arms—to which we have been grateful. However, this latest ruling is a defeat and clearly affirms that going forward, the transferee/buyer must disclose any intent to resell the firearm at the time of purchase.

Supreme Court BuildingDuring the original case and subsequent appeals, Abramski admitted he was the buyer and claimed he made it clear that he intended to sell the pistol to his uncle in Pennsylvania. He further claimed that he was instructed the transfer would be legal as long as his uncle received the firearm through an FFL and filled out the appropriate Form 4473—an action that was in fact completed days later. However, this fact seemed to have landed on deaf ears for the majority of the high court’s members. The Justices were not concerned with the entire process, but only focused on the narrow matter of intent when box 11a was checked.

The unfortunate ending to this story is a warning to all law-abiding gun owners. The current administration is bent on persecuting gun owners at any opportunity. Abramski was in fact suspected of other crimes that prompted the original investigation that led to straw purchase charge, but that does not mean that you and I are any safer from the anti-gunners in the future. While this was a rare victory in recent years against gun rights, we all need to tighten our defenses and support gun rights groups such as the NRA, NAGR, SAF and others.

What is your take on Supreme Court’s ruling? Share it with us in the comment section.

Growing up in Pennsylvania’s game-rich Allegany region, Dave Dolbee was introduced to whitetail hunting at a young age. At age 19 he bought his first bow while serving in the U.S. Navy, and began bowhunting after returning from Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Dave was a sponsored Pro Staff Shooter for several top archery companies during the 1990s and an Olympic hopeful holding up to 16 archery records at one point. During Dave’s writing career, he has written for several smaller publications as well as many major content providers such as Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times, Outdoor Life, Petersen’s Hunting, Rifle Shooter, Petersen’s Bowhunting, Bowhunter, Game & Fish magazines, Handguns, F.O.P Fraternal Order of Police, Archery Business, SHOT Business, OutdoorRoadmap.com, TheGearExpert.com and others. Dave is currently a staff writer for Cheaper Than Dirt!

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Comments (135)

  • Russ Hansen

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    The loop holes are starting to come out. You will never stop the wrong people from getting what they want but you will spend millions trying!

    Reply

  • joe liberal

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    It was a reference to the wording in the 2nd “shall NOT be infringed’. Point was that it has become way too easy to become a felon ie. not making child support payments or being involved in a domestic violence case (a misdemeanor) The first has nothing to do with firearms but would remove your LEGAL ability to possess firearms in some states. And the Officer involved with the recent Supreme Court case should now be a Convicted Felon and devoid of his right to vote & right to protect himself and or family with a firearm…sucks to be him!!. Hope this explains where I was coming from.

    Reply

  • joe liberal

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    I can sympthasize with your anger. But talk of cross-hairs without a political reference is just a little over the top . And just the kind of thing that make rational people carry firearms. The Hiroshima reference was a metaphor?? I guess so, or at least hope so

    Reply

  • joe liberal

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    Well said & whats worse??? it is true!!

    Reply

  • G-Man

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    What really happened in the Abramski case? I’ve been reading numerous repeat questions, many of which have already been answered by me in previous comments. I know 8 pages of commentary is a lot to read through so I will sum up as many answers here as possible.

    Most of Bruce Abramski’s case information is in the public domain now so I am not violating the Privacy Act or agency policy with anything I release here. There is much more to his case than I can disclose here, but hopefully this brief overview will put things into perspective:

    Bruce Abramski was a rookie officer that had been terminated after an investigation into money that had gone missing during a call he’d been on. He was let go as a condition violation of his work probation. No charges were filed and he was even allowed to draw unemployment. Eventually that ran out and he went into debt and defaulted on his mortgage. He and his wife separated.

    Shortly after his savings ran out a bank robbery took place. $4000 was taken and there was very compelling evidence against Abramski. His wife had worked at a bank indicating he had inside information. A previous partner revealed that once while back on patrol Ambramski had mentioned to him how a particular bank they’d passed by would be easy to hit.

    On the day of the robbery Ambramski just happened to test drive the exact model and color of truck that was used to rob the bank in question. Fellow officers also ID’ed security footage of the masked individual as having the same jacket, features, muscular build, walk, and was carrying a distinct gun/duty bag that a fellow officer had gifted Abramski as a rookie; a bag of which they were known to usually buy straight out of the police academy.

    Days after the robbery a penniless Abramski was all of a sudden able to afford the purchase of approximately $2000 in various guns. One of those guns was a Glock for his father-in-law. All paid for in $20 dollar bills from a bank’s zipper pouch.

    Later under pressure from the FBI and sheriff’s investigation into the robbery, Abramski confided in his best friend, who was also an officer, that he had nothing left to lose and planned on killing other officers from his old department as well as some sheriff’s deputies that had made fun of him during an unrelated call. The officer friend reported this, which in turn prompted the FBI to step up their investigation and execute a search warrant on Abramski’s home. It was at this time the FBI discovered the receipt for the Glock Abramski purchased for his father-in-law.

    A warrant was issued and Abramski turned himself in. I’ll spare the details but suffice it to say several arrests, hearings, bails, and releases occurred over the following months. Eventually the bulk of the charges were dismissed because the FBI failed to release evidence to the sheriff’s office which hindered their ability to proceed with a prosecution.

    The only charge that remained was the FBI’s gun straw purchase charge. Abramski’s family hired him an attorney and off the case went to the Supreme Court.

    So I’m just going to say it since no one else will. I think they let Abramski get away with bank robbery so there would be no distractions as they orchestrated and steered this anti-gun charge towards the Supreme Court. There was insurmountable evidence of a bank robbery and all they go for is a lesser weapons charge? Why not both?

    A federal prosecutor has the authority to decline prosecutions they feel are not significant enough to merit prosecution in federal court. But to swap the greater crime of bank robbery for the lesser gun crime appears suspiciously political to me.

    Many civilians are unaware that unlike state and local courts, we (federal agents) are allowed to sit in the courtroom and assist with the prosecution during trials in federal court even if we are also going to provide testimony at some point. The robbery had to come up as part of the affiant’s testimony for the search warrant. More than likely the affiant of the warrant was also the case agent sitting through most of the trial. So what I don’t understand is how this agent could explain the justification for withholding evidence that dropped the bank robbery charges in lieu of a simple gun charge. If not derelict, it at least had to be embarrassingly obvious to all the court officers.

    Federal prosecutors can also refer cases for state prosecution and turn over their evidence, but they opted to not do that either. So again, the focus seems to be heavily bent on getting this gun charge up to the Supreme Court and letting everything else fall by the wayside.

    Regardless, there has been much displaced blame in these forums about this case, but it should be directed squarely at Abramski and his attorney for selfishly forcing the issue upon the Supreme Court once he knew he was guilty. Abramski accepted the check for payment from his father-in-law prior to stepping foot into that gun store. So he violated the law as it is written and even under the examples provided in the ATF Form 4473’s instructions that are provided to everyone.

    To Ambramski’s credit he initially did not think he was breaking the law as he was very forthright about what he was doing and even told the counter clerk it was for is father-in-law. That clerk still encouraged Ambramski that it was okay under these circumstances to mark on the ATF Form 4473 that he was the purchaser. Later Ambramski even went so far as to legally use another FFL to properly transfer the gun to his father-in-law. But alas, many are also unaware that some gun laws are written in such a way that a federal prosecutor does not have to prove you knowingly broke the law, only that you did break the law. And that is what happened here.

    Simply put it is unlawful to purchase a gun for another person with their funds. It was that way prior to the Supreme Court’s decision and it is still the same after they rendered this recent decision. Not one thing has changed about the law after the Courts ruling. I actually laugh because the liberals think they’ve won something here. I say let them think that, and enjoy our quiet joke amongst ourselves.

    As for other questions, I will repost some of my answers: Some commenters have stated they feel Abramski’s use of his law enforcement discount was unethical or somehow illegal.

    I quite often use my law enforcement discount when purchasing firearms and gear. These discounts are offered in many different ways, but primarily they are either an overall LEA discount offered by the gun shop or a dealer direct LEA discount authorized by (most commonly) Glock and Smith & Wesson.

    To qualify for the discount we either show our LEA credentials at the point of purchase, or if it is an Internet purchase that will be shipped to an FFL, we are allowed to fax or email a scanned copy of our official LEA I.D./Badge and a copy of our driver license into the Internet dealer. Manny online outlets keep a copy on file so we don’t have to keep sending it in with each purchase.

    Now to address these comments… once the purchase is made, there is nothing legally, ethically, or fraudulently wrong with gifting or later selling the purchase to another person. The gun dealer could care less, likewise Glock and Smith & Wesson could care less. There is no contingent stipulating the weapons must be used for official duty only.

    The bottom line is these are private companies offering a discount to make a sale and to ensure their brand remains relevant and associated in good standing with law enforcement. There were never any strings attached.

    Some of you had questions about lawful gun purchases and transfers so I commented as follows:

    I am an LEA and can assure others here of the following: You may buy a gun and later sell it or give it as a gift to ANY ONE you please (not just family). However, they must reside in the same state as the gun originally purchased or resides. They may not be a prohibited possessor (felon), but you are under no obligation to do a background check to find out either. They must meet that states age requirements. And last – some states do require the gun to be formally transferred via an FFL whether resold or gifted, so check your local laws.

    One commenter gave bad advice stating you must ship guns through an FFL unless the gun manufacturer sends you a shipping label. That was way off and so I provided the correct advice:

    A person can use the U.S. Mail to ship a shotgun or rifle to any person as long as it is within the same state. No FFL dealer is necessary. It is always unlawful to ship a handgun to anyone through the U.S. Mail – they will only accept shotguns and rifles. However, it is lawful to ship any gun (handguns, shotguns, and rifles) through any contract carrier such as UPS or FedEx. But again, it must be to another individual within the same state. Again, no FFL dealer is required to do this.

    However, in all cases when shipping out of state you must ship the firearm to an FFL dealer in the receiving state for the person to pick up. The same carrier rules apply – U.S. Mail will only accept and ship shotguns and rifles whereas contract carriers can ship handguns as well as shotguns and rifles to FFLs outside your state.

    Contrary to what was said, no “gun manufacturer mailing label” is ever required to ship a gun.

    Reply

    • Thomas

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      Nicely written. One of the best ever.

      Reply

  • Dennis

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    Need to get rid of Obama and elect enough republicans to take over the Senate. Then change the make up of the Supreme Court.

    Reply

    • joe liberal

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      In reply to “Need to get rid of Obama and elect enough republicans to take over the Senate. Then change the make up of the Supreme Court.”
      Well he will be goon at the next presidential election, at the latest!
      As for the rest…..well that remains to be seen. I believe pigs have a better chance of flying.
      Weather you agree with Supreme courts decisions or not, its the process we adhere to which separates us from the remainder of the animal kingdom. And until we as Americans take up arms this will not change in the foreseeable future. Sheeple don’t lead they follow as the name implies.
      Oh and as the name implies, I am a LIBERAL and among other things believe in the liberal distribution of firearms, to all, yes to all! The criminals already have guns. An armed society is a civil society.

      Reply

  • Chris Dublynn

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    I ACTUALLY HAVE NO BEEFS OR QUARRELS ABOUT THIS RULING. YOU MUST BE THE INTENDED OWNER WHEN TRYING TO BUY A GUN.. NO IFS ANDS OR BUTS… EVEN IF ITS A GIFT.. TAKE THE PERSON WITH YOU TO THE STORE, HAVE THEM FILL OUT THE FORM AS REQUIRED AND JUST PAY FOR THE GIFT. I DONT LIKE THE IDEA OF SOMEONE ATTEMPTING TO BUY A GUN FOR SOMEONE ELSE WITHOUT THAT SOMEONE HAVING A BACKGROUND CHECK.. AND IM AS PRO-GUN AS CAN BE..

    Reply

    • G-Man

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      Chris Dublynn, you are WRONG and also DANGEROUSLY WRONG.

      You are WRONG because there is nothing in the law nor this Court’s ruling that states one “MUST BE THE INTENDED OWNER WHEN TRYING TO BUY A GUN”. And clearly there are “IFS ANDS OR BUTS…” because I can, and have, lawfully purchased many guns as gifts and will continue to do so legally under the current law.

      But more importantly you are DANGEROUSLY WRONG because you have just advised people to break the law with a straw purchase by recommending that, “EVEN IF ITS A GIFT.. TAKE THE PERSON WITH YOU TO THE STORE, HAVE THEM FILL OUT THE FORM AS REQUIRED AND JUST PAY FOR THE GIFT”.

      People please do not follow this poor advice. As a law enforcement agent with over 32 years of service (and counting), I can assure you a transaction done in this manner is unlawful. Per the ATF Form 4473 you MUST be the “actual transferee/buyer of the firearm(s) listed on the form”, not the “THE INTENDED OWNER” as Chris Dublynn stated.

      What you lawfully choose to do with that gun after you purchase it is no one’s business; this includes giving it away, raffling it off, donating it, or selling it to anyone else you please as long as you do not knowingly transfer it to a prohibited possessor.

      Another important consideration for why such a flawed gifting idea is unlawful: An adult can lawfully gift a minor child a handgun or rifle of which may be lawfully possessed and operated by said minor on their own private land without adult supervision and on public land with adult supervision. However, if an adult wanting to gift a gun to a minor did attempt to subscribe to such poor advice by actually bringing the minor in to fill out ATF paperwork, that would not only land them in jail for contributing to the delinquency of that minor, but also give that child their first felony charge for attempting to purchase a gun under age.

      Minors can’t buy guns, but they may lawfully own them. I think you need to rethink your dangerously flawed opinion. And for that matter withdraw your self-proclamation as “pro-gun” until you earn that right with a bit more study.

      Reply

  • tl76

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    My apologies for a too quickly written comment. The remarks were to have been prefaced with reference to California laws.

    In CA, all handgun transfers must be processed through a licensed dealer, with few exceptions, so cannot be “gifted” freely. One of these exceptions is a gift between a child, parent, or grandparent (immediate family). In that case, there is a CA form (Report of Operation of Law or interfamilial Transfer) which must be filed with CA DOJ, but does not require a dealer. Transfers to all other relatives and friends, including uncles, fall under the usual transfer rules, and do need to go through a dealer. For the original 4473, a parent buying a gun as a gift for a child of the correct age, for example, would check “yes” in 11a, but must use their own funds (per 4473 instructions).

    As to the CA laws being convoluted, in ATF Publication 5300.5 (State Laws and Published Ordinances – Firearms), CA takes up 70 pages, where the entire book for all 50 states is only 480 pages!

    Reply

    • G-Man

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      @ tl76: I will assume your most recent comment was addressing my response a few pages back in which I corrected some of your inaccuracies regarding gun purchase and transfer laws. Based on your latest post I now understand your predicament more clearly.

      Thank you for taking the time to clarify. However, though your situation is very interesting, I cannot speak on issues regarding the gun laws of foreign countries. In my country and region, our citizens vote to elect as many leaders that believe in upholding and defending gun rights per our Constitution.

      If you are secretly pro-gun, I highly encourage you to defect to our country. You won’t regret it. Be well.

      Reply

  • CherokeeScot

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    This is not an opinion. It is accurate information. So hopefully it will be construed as such. President Obama’s administration has violated the letter of the law so many times on so many different issues. Prosecuting this case and not prosecuting the Wall Street crooks, just as one of many examples, clearly illustrates the inability of the administration to even have a clue about priorities. They will prosecute pet peeves but not real, serious crime. What a bunch of losers.

    Reply

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