The Supreme Court is Hearing a Major Gun Rights Case This Week – Did You Know?

January 23 2014
by GSL Staff
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supreme_courtDid you know that the Supreme Court is hearing arguments on a major gun rights case that could affect the way you buy and sell firearms this week? No? Most people probably aren’t aware of Abramski v. United States, but depending on the outcome, it could have major implications on everything from the Fast and Furious scandal to private gun sales to how FFL dealers sell guns. Pretty big implications on the line.

Bruce Abramski, a former police officer and a resident of Virginia found himself in hot water with the ATF when he purchased a firearm for his uncle. Abramski argued that he only bought the gun because as a former police officer, he received a discount.

However, the ATF saw the purchase as a “straw purchase”. Traditionally, a straw purchase has been regarded as a purchase made by an individual who can legally own firearms on behalf of an individual who is not allowed to own firearms. However, in this case, both Abramski and his uncle were both perfectly legal to own a firearm.

Abramski even followed interstate gun transfer laws and sent the gun through a local FFL to his elderly uncle, who then received it through another FFL on his end.

The issue, apparently, is that Abramski received funds from his uncle ahead of time, specifically to purchase the firearm, so he is being charged.

Based on my limited understanding of the law (I am by no means a lawyer), had Abramski purchased the gun with his own money, and then immediately decided to sell the gun to his uncle for the same amount of money he purchased it for, he would not be in this situation. Screwed up law, right?

Anyway, depending on how the justices rule, we could be seeing implications in how straw purchases are defined, possible changes to the Form 4473 you fill out when you buy a gun, changes in ATF tactics in regards to operations such as Fast and Furious and a wide variety of other issues.

According to POLITICO,

Abramski’s lawyer, Richard Dietz, argued that ATF had no right to ask that question and that Abramski answered truthfully by saying that he was the purchaser of the firearm, even though his uncle had already given him the money for it.

“This legislation, the way Congress designed it, is not focused on sort of the end point,” Dietz said. “They are not concerned about the ultimate recipients of firearms or what happens to a gun after it leaves the gun store.” He noted that it’s perfectly legal to buy a gun and give it to someone else as a gift or even to award one through a raffle.

Justice Antonin Scalia seemed to accept Dietz’s argument, concluding that the muddled language in the law is the result of a political compromise between gun owners and others seeking to limit gun-related violence.

We’ll definitely keep an eye on this one to see how it plays out.

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