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.
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.
During 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.