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Supreme Court Affirms Conviction In Gun “Straw Purchase” Case

Supreme Court Affirms Conviction In Gun “Straw Purchase” Case

Lying to buy gun in place of a 3rd party is a felony even if the 3rd party would be lawful purchaser.

[Edit: The title of this post was edited to better reflect the Court’s ruling.]

This morning the US Supreme Court released it’s ruling in Abramski v. United States–the firearm “straw purchase” gun case–in which it affirmed Abramski’s convictions.  (The full-length opinion is embedded at the bottom of this post.)

In reaching it’s decision the majority–led by Kagan, and including Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and the necessary swing-vote, Kennedy–the Court took a very broad interpretation of the government’s statutes, regulations, and even mere practice in narrowing the scope of lawful 3rd-party purchases of firearms, arriving at their conclusion less by looking at the actual statutes and regulations and more by looking at their perception of the “context” and intended “purpose” of those statutes and regulations.

Facts

The defendant in this case, Abramski, arranged to purchase a Glock 19 for his uncle, Alvarez.  Abramski had previously been a law enforcement officer, and it is common practice for law enforcement officers to be able to purchase firearms at a discount to the price generally available to the public.

Although Abramski had been fired from his LEO job two years prior, he retained his police officer identification, and intended to use that ID to purchase the pistol for his uncle at a favorable price.

The Uncle wrote Abramski a check for $400 with “Glock 19” written in the memo field.

Two day later Abramski appeared at an FFL (a Federal Firearms Licensee, through which most gun sales are required to occur) and purchased the gun.  In the process of doing so he completed the Federally required Form 4473.  Form 4473 asks for particular personal information, and also asks the buyer to reply to a series of interrogatories.

Among the questions asked was 11.a, which asks whether the purchaser is the “actual buyer” of the firearm.  Abramski answered in the affirmative–absent which the sale would not have been processed by the FFL.  He also signed an acknowledgement that a false answer to 11.a constituted a felony.

Abramski’s purchase cleared the NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) and the FFL sold him the Glock.

Abramski then deposited the check from his uncle, transferred the gun to his uncle (lawfully, using an FFL in his uncle’s state, which differed from his own), and received a receipt in return.

This receipt was to later be discovered by Federal agents executing a warrant on Abramski as part of an investigation into other alleged wrongdoing.

Prior Legal History

Abramski was indicted on two charges, the violation of Federal statutes §922(a)(6)–making a false statement re: a fact material to the lawfulness of the sale–and §924(a)(1)(A)–making a false statement re: any information required to be kept on file by an FFL.

At trial he submitted motions to dismiss both charges.  With respect to the “lying re: lawfulness of the sale” charge  he argued that he had not violated this law on the basis that his uncle was legally eligible to own a gun.  With respect to the “lying re: information kept on file” he argued that the “actual buyer” question to which he lied is not among the specifically enumerated pieces of information required to be so kept on file.  When the District Court denied these motions Abramski entered a conditional guilty plea preserving his right to appeal, and was sentenced to two concurrently five year sentences.

Upon appeal the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed his convictions.  It noted in its decision that there was a split among the appellate courts on these issues, however.  The 5th Circuit agreed with Abramski’s position on the first issue, that a third-party purchase is lawful if the ultimate receiver of the firearm would have been lawfully permitted to purchase the gun themselves.  Two other circuits, however, disagreed, and the 4th Circuit elected to adopt this majority position.    With an eye primarily to addressing this split in the appellate courts, the Supreme Court granted certiorari last year.

Abramski’s Supreme Court Arguments

Before the Supreme Court Abramski renewed his §922(a)(6) “lying re: lawfulness of the sale” argument that the sale ought to be deemed lawful if, as here, it would have been lawful for the final recipient to purchase the gun themselves.  In parallel, however, he expanded this argument to cover even circumstances in which the final recipient would not have been able to lawfully purchase the gun.  This broader argument is based on the notion that §922(a)(6) in fact never reaches beyond the initial purchaser, concerning itself only with the individual standing across the counter from the FFL, with no reach beyond that individual.

With respect to the §924(a)(1)(A) “lying re: information kept on file” Abramski concedes that section does indeed require the FFL to keep on file a lengthy list of enumerated peices of information, including:

. . . transferee’s name, sex, residence address (including county or similar political subdivision), date and place of birth; height, weight and race of the transferee; the transferee’s country of citizenship; the transferee’s INS-issued alien number or admission number; the transferee’s State of residence . . .

Nowhere among that list of information to be kept on file, however, is that covered by question 11.a:  whether the person initially purchasing the gun is the “final buyer.” Therefore, he could not have violated §924(a)(1)(A) by having lied in response to that question.

Kagan’s Majority Opinion Re: §922(a)(6) “lying re: lawfulness of the sale”

Kagan hinges her opinion on the rather straightforward expedient of looking through the initial buyer of the gun to the final purchaser, and setting that ultimate owner in the position of “person” and “transferee” described in the relevant statutes.  She does this on the grounds that the failure to do so, and to follow Abramski’s argument

would undermine–indeed, for all important purposes, would virtually repeal, the gun law’s core provisions

which she describes as including the key goals of verifying a would-be purchaser’s identity and background (as well as ensure required information was kept on file by the FFL).

She continues that

All the prerequisites for buying a gun . . . refer to a “person” or “transferee.” Read Abramski’s way (“the man at the counter”), those terms deny effect to the regulatory scheme, as criminals could always use straw purchasers to evade the law.  Read the other way (“the man getting, and always meant to get, the firearm”), those terms give effect to the statutory provisions, allowing them to accomplish their manifest objects.  That alone provides more than sufficient reason to understand “person” and “transferee” as referring not to the fictitious but to the real buyer.

and

Contrary to [Abramski’s] contention, the information Question 11.a. requests–“[a]re you the actual transferee/buyer[?]” or, put conversely, “are [you] acquiring the firearm(s) on behalf of another person[?]”–is relevant to the lawfulness of a gun sale.  That is because for all the reasons we have given, the firearms law contemplates that the dealer will check not the fictitious purchaser’s but instead the true purchaser’s identity and eligibility for gun ownership.  By concealing that Alvarez was the actual buyer, Abramski prevented the dealer from transacting with Alvarez face-to-face, see §922(c), record his name, age and residence, §922(b)(5), inspecting his photo ID, see §922(t)(1)(C), submitting his identifying information to the background check system, see §922(t)(1)(B), and determining whether he was prohibited from receiving a firearm, see §922(d).  In sum, Abramski thwarted application of essentially all of the firearms law’s requirements.  We can hardly think of a misrepresentation any more material to a sale’s legality.

Kagan’s Majority Opinion Re: §924(a)(1)(A) “lying re: information kept on file”

With respect to Abramski’s argument that he cannot be convicted of violating §924(a)(1)(A) because the information which he falsely provided–his response to Q.11.a re: whether he was the “actual buyer”–is not enumerated among the pieces of information the FFL is required by statute to keep on file, Kagan simply disagrees. Because Form 4473 itself must be kept on file, she argues for the majority, and Q.11.a is part of Form 4473, Abramski did, in fact, make a false statement regarding information that was to be kept on file, thereby violating §924(a)(1)(A).

Scalia’s Dissent Re: §922(a)(6) “lying re: lawfulness of the sale”

Scalia authored the dissent, in which he was joined by Roberts, Thomas, and Alito.  With respect to §922(a)(6) “lying re: lawfulness of the sale” Scalia simply rejects the majority’s designation of the ultimate recipient of the gun as the “person” or “transferee” contemplated by the Gun Control Act.  Of the majority’s contention that the Act’s principal purpose was to keep firearms out of the hands of those not legally entitled to have them, and that this “purpose” requires that Abramski’s uncle be deemed the “person” to whom the “dealer” sold the gun, Scalia responds

The majority’s purpose-based arguments describe a statute Congress reasonably might have written, but not the statute it wrote.

Scalia acknowledges that certainly one purpose of the Act was to increase the difficulty for ineligible persons to acquire guns, but that purpose was not an absolute.  Indeed, he notes numerous circumstances under which both Government itself acknowledges that one person can buy, through an FFL transfer, a firearm with the full intent of promptly delivering that firearm to a third person who was no part of the FFL transaction, including

Guns Intended as Gifts. In the government’s view, an individual who buys a gun “with the intent of making a gift of the firearm to another person” is the gun’s “true purchaser.” The Government’s position makes no exception for situations where the gift is specifically requested by the recipient (as gifts sometimes are).  So long as no money changes hands, and no agency relationship is formed, between gifter and gifteee, the Act is concerned only with the man [“buyer”] at the counter.

Guns Intended for Resale.  Introducing money into the equation does not automatically change the outcome.  The Government admits that the man at the counter is the true purchaser even if he immediately sells the gun to someone else.  And it appears the Government’s position would be the same even if the man at the counter purchased the gun with the intent to sell it to a particular third party, so long as the two did not enter into a common-law agency relationship.

Intended as Raffle Prizes.  The Government considers he man at the counter the true purchaser even if he is buying the gun “for the purpose of raffling [it] at an event”–in which case he can provide his own information on Form 4473 and “transfer the firearm to the raffle winner without a Form 4473 being completed or a [background] check being conducted” on the winner.

He wonders:

Why is the majority convinced that a statute with so many admitted loopholes does not contain this particular [“straw purchase”] loophole? . . . What the scenarios described above show is that the statute typically is concerned only with the man at the counter, even when that man is in a practical sense a “conduit” who will promptly transfer the gun to someone else.

He also comments on the inevitable compromises that are required to pass any complex piece of legislation, noting that:

Perhaps those whose votes were needed for passage of the statute wanted a lawful purchaser to be able to use an agent.  . . . We must accept that Congress, balancing the conflicting demands of a divided citizenry, “‘wrote the statute it wrote’–meaning, a statute going so far and no further.”

He also noted that the ATF itself did not adopt the “straw purchase” position until 1976, fully 8 years after the passage of the 1968 Gun Control Act, at which time it changed to favor the “straw purchase” purchases are illegal position.  (NOTE:  This would seem to have implications for the currently existing “gifts” and “raffle prizes” exceptions, as it would seem that the ATF could as easily eliminate those by a mere shift in policy.)

Having argued that the Act does not, in fact, intend to pierce the “man at the counter” at all, he goes on to argue that even if the statute is merely ambiguous on this point the benefit of that ambiguity should go to the defendant.  This, he argues, is particularly so where the Government itself had for man years the opposite of its current interpretation, where such earlier interpretation would have favored the defendant.

Scalia’s Dissent Re: §924(a)(1)(A) “lying re: information kept on file”

With respect to the §924(a)(1)(A) “lying re: information kept on file” issue, Scalia merely details the specific enumerated types of information the Act requires be filed by the FFL, and notes that Question 11.a re “real buyer” is not among them.  He notes that under the majority’s opinion

any “false answer on that Form”–even an answer to a question that is not among those enumerated in the regulation–necessarily “pertains to information a dealer is statutorily required to maintain.”

This, he notes in response,

carries the text of the statute a bridge too far.  On the majority’s view, if the bureaucrats responsible for creating Form 4473 decided to ask about the buyer’s favorite color, a false response would be a federal crime.  That is not what the statute says. The statute punishes misstatements “with respect to  information required to be kept, §924(a)(1)(A), not with respect to “information contained in forms required to be kept.”  Because neither the Act nor any regulation requires a dealer to keep a record of whether a customer is purchasing a gun for himself or for an eligible third party, that question had no place on Form 4473.  . . .  Information regarding Abramski’s status as a “straw purchaser” was not “information required to be kept,” and that is an end of the matter.

He concludes:

The Court makes it a federal crime for one lawful gun owner to buy a gun for another lawful gun owner. Whether or not that is a sensible result, the statutes Congress enacted do not support it–especially when, as is appropriate, we resolve ambiguity in those statutes in favor of the accused.

For those of you interested in digging into the full-length opinion, here you go:

–-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense


Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog and Amazon.com (paperback and Kindle). He holds many state-specific Law of Self Defense Seminars around the country, and produces a series of Law of Self Defense Videocasts and Podcasts available on iTunes, Stitcher, and RSS).

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Comments

I wonder how SCOTUS would rule on ‘lying’ about an IRS crashed hard drive with no data recovery available …. but I digress.

and fast& furious FORCED dealers to sell to straw buyers…
what a mess this crap is.

Personally, I don’t mind narrowing the scope of straw purchases. He lied to get a better price for his uncle because of his expired LEO ID. One also has to take into consideration that the defendant was also being investigated for other alleged wrongdoings.

He could have easily just bought the gun, and then legally transferred it to his uncle, case closed, but instead lied on the application to get a better price.

Sounds to me like the narrowing of the scope on straw purchases is justified in this case.

    Observer in reply to Paul. | June 16, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    What type of law enforcement organization fires somebody, but lets them keep the cop ID?

      Gremlin1974 in reply to Observer. | June 17, 2014 at 10:20 am

      Depends on the circumstances of his termination, maybe he was late to many times, who knows, just being fired isn’t grounds to relieve someone of their law enforcement credentials.

    tom swift in reply to Paul. | June 17, 2014 at 4:15 am

    One also has to take into consideration that the defendant was also being investigated for other alleged wrongdoings.

    Oh, well, must be guilty, then.

    He could have easily just bought the gun, and then legally transferred it to his uncle

    Failure to conduct one’s affairs efficiently is not a crime.

    western gunowner in reply to Paul. | June 17, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    Thats the only ironic, nay, comical aspect about this.

    A (former) COP gets tripped up by the paperwork.

    It’s a pretty fair bet that at least one time in his LEO “career” he didn’t give another “innocent” person the fair break (like say lying about the persons “sobriety check” and running them in for DUI).

    Karma. It can be a b*%$h.

    But the effect of the ruling is awfull. It cements in place the idea that the ATF can write its own “laws”.

    That used to be the province of Congress.

stevewhitemd | June 16, 2014 at 8:25 pm

Correct decision. Courts can’t condone lying, be it for a gun purchase or for missing email.

    sequester in reply to stevewhitemd. | June 17, 2014 at 8:39 am

    Courts condone lying every day of the week. How many times does a Court condone something like: “I smelled the odor of marijuana” or “I saw the defendant weaving”.

    In this case, the argument was not so much about lying, but the legal interpretation of who the “purchaser” was for purposes of a form and Federal law.

“Although Abramski had been fired from his LEO job two years prior, he retained his police officer identification, and intended to use that ID to purchase the pistol for his uncle at a favorable price.”

IOW, he used fake ID.

And was a straw purchaser by any reasonable reading of the facts and the law.

And lied on the form.

” With respect to the “lying re: lawfulness of the sale” charge he argued that he had not violated this law on the basis that his uncle was legally eligible to own a gun”

And has problems reading basic English. The law does not say ‘Unless you really really trust the person you’re buying it for’.

The 5th Circuit blew it big time. “… a third-party purchase is lawful if the ultimate receiver of the firearm would have been lawfully permitted to purchase the gun themselves” is not what the law says, period.

It appears there was never any intent to buy a gun for an ineligible person, but only to save a few bucks. And the uncle filled out Form 4473, so the gun was in the system, and his background was checked. Yes he lied, but this should be a misdemeanor, not a felony.

The other problem here is that cops get special consideration when purchasing firearms (or in California, can purchase guns that are “off list”). They should be held to the same rules and standards as the general public — they are not an entitled class.

Thanks Andrew Branca for covering this.

    pjm in reply to MikeInCA. | June 16, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    “they are not an entitled class.”

    Unless they’re gay or trans, of course.

    Sanddog in reply to MikeInCA. | June 17, 2014 at 1:20 am

    Here’s the question he was charged with lying about:

    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.
    (See Instructions for Question 11.a.) Exception: If you are picking up a repaired firearm(s)for another person, you are
    not required to answer 11.a. and may proceed to question 11.b.

    Question 11 a-l are the “perjury” questions. Some of them seem so absurd but they WILL be used against you if you answer them incorrectly. In Abramski’s case, although he was the actual buyer (he had to use his credit card) the firearm was intended for his uncle. The fact that he used a FFL to legally transfer the firearm to his uncle shows the absolute pettiness of the government in this prosecution. There was never any intent to keep this transfer “off the books”, he was just trying to save his uncle a few bucks.

      pjm in reply to Sanddog. | June 17, 2014 at 7:44 am

      “There was never any intent to keep this transfer “off the books”, he was just trying to save his uncle a few bucks.”

      True, it seems. Sadly, he broke the law in several places doing it.

      Archer in reply to Sanddog. | June 17, 2014 at 12:09 pm

      The ambiguity of Q. 11-a is part of the problem. If I’m purchasing a gun with the intention of presenting it to my wife as a gift (i.e. no recompense), then I’m quite literally “acquiring the firearm(s) on behalf of another person.”

      According to this ruling, it doesn’t matter if my wife would also be a lawful purchaser, or if she passes a background check before taking possession. It doesn’t matter if it’s for a raffle prize or if I intend to sell it via another FFL to another person, including another background check (especially that last; it’s precisely what Abramski was convicted of).

      It doesn’t matter because, according to this ruling, if I buy a firearm for anyone other than myself, it could be considered a “straw purchase” and I could be found guilty of a felony because I’m “acquiring the firearm(s) on behalf of another person.”

      I appreciate Scalia’s dissenting arguments. The “favorite color” question seems a stab at humor, but it makes a good point: if I were to show up at an FFL wearing blue jeans and a blue shirt, and answer that my favorite color is red, could the FFL’s CC-camera footage be used as evidence of perjury? Kagan’s decision seems to set the bar pretty low.

I find it difficult to be concerned about a mere citizen lying to the government when, as the above comments point out, those in the government charged with the administration and enforcement of laws continually lie to cover not only their misdeeds, but their illegal activity as well and when it becomes inconvenient ignore the laws the have sworn to uphold.

So, basically, the buyer gets a 60 month prison sentence for saving his uncle a couple hundred bucks. And a felony conviction meaning he will never ever possess a firearm.
Who said “no good deed goes unpunished.”

    Juba Doobai! in reply to Redneck Law. | June 16, 2014 at 11:11 pm

    Second Amendment nullified is the point.

    tom swift in reply to Redneck Law. | June 17, 2014 at 5:05 am

    And a felony conviction meaning he will never ever possess a firearm.

    It has no effect at all on possession. Only on legal possession. Illegally possessed guns are unaffected by these legalistic shenanigans.

    “the buyer gets a 60 month prison sentence for saving his uncle a couple hundred bucks”

    You forgot to add ‘by breaking the law’.

    Funny thing about laws – they don’t give a shit whether you knew about them, or liked them, or ‘thought’ they applied to you, or anything else.

    Fact is – use fake ID (old invalid Police ID will do it) during a firearms purchase (for ANY reason, like a discount), get caught = go to jail.

      Gremlin1974 in reply to pjm. | June 17, 2014 at 10:27 am

      One small point, there is a difference between being a Certified Law Enforcement Officer and being employed as a LEO, at least in my state they are mutually exclusive. I haven’t read anywhere that his LEO credentials had been revoked, just that he had been fired from a job. That doesn’t mean he was using any false ID.

        OK, I don’t know the details. I bet the seller THOUGHT he was ‘active LEO’. And that deceit was intentional.

        The fact that I have a college degree, and USED to work for the local college, does not entitle me to ’employee discount’ from the school.

        However – he did knowingly buy a gun for someone else. He did knowingly do it with deceit, to save money.

        That is ‘a straw purchase’ by any definition.

      western gunowner in reply to pjm. | June 17, 2014 at 6:00 pm

      The problem here is that he didn’t break the “law”.

      The “law” is made by Congress.

      Congress did not write the law under which he was convicted.

      The ATF made up this form 8 years after the Congress passed the 1968 GCA.

      In practical effect now the ATF could place any restrictions they want now on the form (including denying specifically the ability to give the gun as a gift) or word in such a way as to make it legally risky to purchase a gun at all (for ANY subsequent transfer of that gun could be deemed a violation of the original purchase attestation).

      Abramski’s evil intent was clearly established by the fact that he then followed the “law” to legally transfer the gun – thru ANOTHER FBI background check – thru a dealer (since the gun was going over state lines). sarc/off

      So, the gov’ts purpose, as described by Kagan, was not frustrated at all. Indeed both the original purchaser and the subsequent purchaser were recorded thru the background check.

      There was no mens rea here. And when you can break the “law” (and be imprisoned for it) despite that you made every effort to comply with the law and didn’t believe you were violating it (he would have violated the “law” by transferring the handgun out of state without going thru a dealer) then the “law” is no longer meant to enforce justice but has become a tool for the state to oppress the people.

      When we begin to accept “law” made by admistrative officials then we are no longer a democratic Republic.

      Unfortunately, this ruling makes that clear.

        platypus in reply to western gunowner. | June 18, 2014 at 1:27 am

        We’re the gubmint. We don’t need no steenkin’ mens rea.

        In 2011, the ATF unilaterally decided that if you were a dealer in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California and transferred two or more long guns greater than .22 caliber than could accept a detachable magazine within 5 days to the same customer, you’d have to fill out a 3310.12 form and send it to the ATF National Tracing center on the same day as the multiple transaction. This wasn’t authorized by Congress (which implemented the multiple handgun reporting), it came straight from Obama and Holder. A couple of Arizona dealers sued in Federal court and in 2013, an appeals court decided that since it only applied to 4 states, it didn’t matter if Congress authorized it.

        That’s what we’re up against. An administration that has decided that the law can be changed or modified without Congressional action and idiots sitting on the bench who apparently missed the lecture about the separation of powers.

MouseTheLuckyDog | June 16, 2014 at 10:22 pm

Why not sell the uncle an old gun and keep the Glock for himself.

It has already been established the the only people that can put false information on a 4473 are ATF agents. As in George Gillette the ATF agent (do a google search), who’s gun, that he purchased was found at a crime scene where a Mexican beauty was slain. On the 4473’s he entered his office address and a shopping center address when the form specifically states home address.
Don

    DINORightMarie in reply to donp. | June 16, 2014 at 11:24 pm

    Why do I feel that the same majority justices would have ruled the OPPOSITE WAY if this had been the ATF (or BATFE) up for the final examination by SCOTUS and not some mere citizen lying to get a discount for his uncle?

    Never forget Fast & Furious. It was the first scandal that exposed the illegal activity, and the depths of depravity, of this regime.

    western gunowner in reply to donp. | June 17, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    All gov’t officials can legally lie and will not be prosecuted for it.

    It is almost a daily occurence now. Holer, Clapper, Lois Lerner.

    All of them have perjured themselves under oath before Congress.

    But they are walking free.

I see a rather nasty trap here. Suppose I buy a gun, but when taking it out of the box, I find I dislike it for some trivial reason, and Bob offers to buy it off me. That seems to be a non-felony because Bob doesn’t make the offer until I have the gun.
But what if Bob was the one who suggested that I buy the gun, saying “You’ll love it, and if you don’t, I’ll buy it off you.” Same set of transactions, and it appears I’m a felon now.
Now what if a year goes by between my purchase and Bob buying it off me? Am I still a felon?
Without a contract stating that I am acting as a middleman for Bob, we’re just two individuals buying and selling things, and somehow that has been elevated to a felony, depending on conditions that no reasonable person could expect to be 100% correct all the time about.

Now multiply this by thousands of people buying and selling little gun-related things and we’re hitting that three felonies a day limit fast.
Buy a box of duck shotgun shells during hunting season for a friend, go to prison.
Buy the laser sight off a friends gun that he could never get to work, go to prison.
Reimburse a friend for the half-box of shells you used during target practice, go to prison.
And so on, and so forth.

    Juba Doobai! in reply to georgfelis. | June 16, 2014 at 11:10 pm

    Yes, and the point is that when you come out of jail you will no longer allowed to be a gun owner. If the Communists have to make us all criminals to disarm us, they will.

    Let’s get rid of the regulatory state’s insertion of itself into gun buying. Risks? Yes. However, the greater risk is the enslavement of a disarmed people.

Juba Doobai! | June 16, 2014 at 11:06 pm

The minor lesson is this: next time, peruse the check carefully and make sure nothing is written in the memo.

The major lesson is this: Democrat judges are going to nullify the Second Amendment one context and penumbra at a time.

    platypus in reply to Juba Doobai!. | June 18, 2014 at 1:45 am

    Then we need people in Congress who will remove the jurisdiction over second amendment from the district courts. Most people forget (or never knew) that fed courts are limited jurisdiction courts, delineated by Congress.

Juba Doobai! | June 16, 2014 at 11:19 pm

Remember the good/bad old days, according to your viewpoint, when men came out of jail and strapped on their guns without fear of the law? We would be better reverting to those days.

The Second Amendment does not limit our right to be arm arms, so why should we accept even those limitations? But what about the women who would likely be attacked by husbands or boyfriends, newly released from jail? What about the stalkers, the rapists, the murderers? Go listen to Miranda Lambert’s “Gunpowder and Lead”, arm yourselves, and learn to shoot to kill. Self defense is a duty to oneself, one’s friends and family. The Founders, in inserting the Second Amendment, decided that self defense was the best course against a tyrannical state.

What about the crazies? Should they have guns, too. There is nothing as sanity-inducing as being on the business end of a gun. Even crazy has limits because even the crazy want to live.

In effect, we must agitate for an unlimited right to bear arms, push for gun training in schools, and a society in which nobody knows who is not carrying. An armed society is a very polite society. Ask the Swiss.

I was really struck by the ignorance of the court. Kagan seemed to be under the impression that a form 4473 is the end of the line in the ownership trail of a firearm. In reality, any given firearm could have multiple 4473s associated with it. If I transfer a firearm tomorrow, the legal owner can keep the firearm, gift it, sell it privately or sell it through a FFL. If a firearm is seized at the scene of a crime with an intact serial number, law enforcement can trace it back from the manufacturer but it’s a time consuming process. The feds don’t have a clear trail of ownership on any firearm in the USA (except those purchased by government agencies) and that’s by design.

When I’m asked by a customer what they should do if they choose to sell their firearm, I tell them they are allowed by law to sell it privately but I strongly suggest using a written invoice so they can show who received the firearm after it left their possession. In order to legally protect themselves, I advise them to conduct the transfer through a FFL, particularly if they sell it within a year of the initial transfer.

So, I like a particular weapon, but I lack the $400 to pay for the weapon. My favorite uncle hears of my plight and tells me that he will give me a check to cover the price. I purchase the weapon and take it home. My uncle sees it and comments that he really likes it, too. I am so grateful for the gift of the check that I give the weapon to my uncle, using a FFL to legally handle the transfer to him across state lines.

So, the above was a different narrative, but same evidence. Did a “third party transaction” occur? If you answer “yes”, imagine that I possess the weapon for five years before the transfer of the weapon to my uncle. Is it still a “third party transaction”?

Another scenario – I take the weapon home and get buyer’s remorse. My best friend who lives in another state really likes the weapon and needs it for self-defense as someone has started to stalk her. I know that she cannot afford to buy it right now so I transfer it her via a FFL to use until she can get another weapon or can pay me. Is it still a “third party transaction”?

The moral of the story? Get cash from your favorite uncle.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Another Ed. | June 17, 2014 at 2:09 am

    Another solution, besides using cash, would be to just go work for the feds. Then you can do whatever you like, including using straw purchases to buy arms for Mexican drug cartel gangbangers who now stroll across our border at obastard’s open invitation.

JackRussellTerrierist | June 17, 2014 at 2:05 am

The government lies more than it tells the truth, so I have no respect for it nor do I care if someone breaks one of their laws in a “no harm, no foul” situation such as this. Heck, the cost of this investigation and ridiculous prosecution could have covered a year’s worth of “free” food, shelter and medicine for at least 50 of obastard’s New best Friends illegally waltzing over our southern border day in and day out.

To receive TEN years for this is a political sentence. Ya see, you can always tell it’s political when it makes no sense at all except in connection to political correctness, meaning the preference of the activist judges, loud advocacy groups and popular “victim” entities.

This receipt was to later be discovered by Federal agents executing a warrant on Abramski as part of an investigation into other alleged wrongdoing.

It’s not obvious why this was suspicious. The receipt was for a gun transferred from an owner to a buyer, the transfer taking place through regular legal channels. None of which indicates malfeasance.

The Uncle wrote Abramski a check for $400 with “Glock 19″ written in the memo field.

Two day later Abramski appeared at an FFL (a Federal Firearms Licensee, through which most gun sales are required to occur) and purchased the gun.

The dated check is what makes this a straw purchase. If Abramski had bought the gun, then at some later date sold it to his uncle, there would be no problem. The dated check implies that the uncle was buying the gun, with Abramski just a paperwork go-between – that is, a straw purchaser.

But if the Federal agents didn’t have the dated check, why would they have been suspicious of this transaction in the first place?

Why does Ginsburg wear that bib? Very unfortunate; it inspires a suspicion that her handler’s afraid she’s going to start drooling. Twenty years ago it was a little eccentric, but still short of being downright bizarre. Now, it’s just a constant reminder that her “use by” date is long expired, and that if she was a fundamentally sensible person she’d have retired back when Disco was King.

This decision bothers me.
What if I want to buy a gun for some one as a gift.
Lets say I take my mother shopping for her concealed carry piece. She picks out a hand gun and fills out the form 4473.

When it is approved I whip out my CC and pay for the gun.

Without any intent to own the gun, without any intent to possess the gun.

I would be a felon, my mother would be a felon and the gun store would be in violation.

    Sanddog in reply to starride. | June 17, 2014 at 9:58 am

    A few days ago, I would have told you you’re handling the purchase in an ATF approved manner. Today, I’d tell you to buy Mom a gift certificate and let her “buy” the firearm.

      Gremlin1974 in reply to Sanddog. | June 17, 2014 at 12:35 pm

      Actually there is a perfectly legal way to buy a gun as a gift you just have to make it known from the beginning that is what you are doing.

      Or you can just buy the gun, keep it for a week and then sell it, the problem in this case is that he knew he was purchasing for someone else and wasn’t up front about it. He should have just bought the gun then had his uncle purchase the gun from him a week later.

        western gunowner in reply to Gremlin1974. | June 17, 2014 at 6:17 pm

        No.

        If you waltz into the dealer, blithly sign the form attesting that you are the actual purchaser, then tell the dealer that you are not (IE you are buying it for your mother for example) and the dealer then sells you that gun you have BOTH violated the law (you for LYING and he for selling it to you even though he knows you are lying).

        The dealer would be crazy for completing that sale.

        If on the other hand you answer no – btw there is no place on the form to indicate you are buying the gun as a gift or for any other reason than for yourself – then the dealer CANNOT complete the sale and if he does again you are both be violating the law.

        The only reason the Feds don’t go after people who buy guns as gifts is because they normally don’t know about it.

        But it is entirely up to them as to whether they would charge you with a crime.

        That is not a “justice system”. It is world of arbitrary rule by men.

As Tom Swift put it the problem was with the predated check with the memo field “Glock 19.” Without that check there is no evidence of a crime.

Its common to purchase a firearm, decide you don’t like it and sell to another individual. 10 years later or 10-minutes, no difference. Then his desire to follow the law and transfer the weapon via FFL to an out of state buyer documented the transfer.

Without either of those there is no evidence of a crime. No harm, no foul.

They really wanted to put him in jail for something and used this as an excuse when their search turned up nothing else.

Dana Thompson | June 17, 2014 at 11:18 am

If the vendor offered a discount to LEO’s, that’s a commonplace example of affinity-group marketing, just like the auto-parts store that offers discounts to AAA members. If an offense was committed it was against the vendor, and it’s up to him to pursue it. As far as the Gun Control Act is concerned, it’s got nothin’ to do with nothin’.

    Good point that needed to be made, I think. It’s tacky and wrong to try to get discounts you’re not actually entitled to, but it’s up to the person who’s offering the discount to check your eligibility and then decide how far they want to take it if they catch someone cheating. An old lady who still flashes her AARP card at the local lawn and garden center to get their 10% Wednesday Discount even though she stop paying membership fees two years ago is probably not going to be found guilty of a Federal offense.

The case is a perfect storm of stupidity.

Yes, the guy could have avoided the problem ten different ways, the easiest is by shooting the gun a few times with a record of it, and then claiming he didn’t care for it for to give to his uncle. Or dragging his uncle to the store.

But what I want to know is: Why didn’t they bring up the standard emanations and penumbras of the Second Amendment as was done in that Chicago case about firing ranges?

If you have the right to keep a gun in your home, you have a lesser, slightly regulated but still guaranteed right to purchase one as well as proper ammunition; and similarly a right to legally sell that weapon to those legally allowed to purchase it? Why wasn’t this argument brought up?

    MarkS in reply to luagha. | June 17, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    Why is the second amendment the only right for which we must fill out a form and seek permission from the govt to exercise? Doing so reduces the right to bear arms to a privilege granted by the State.

      luagha in reply to MarkS. | June 17, 2014 at 3:12 pm

      Well, because we acknowledge that it is a right that we can remove from violent felons and the insane. That implies that we can have some kind of test at purchase to determine if someone has been legally judged to be a violent felon or insane.

        pjm in reply to luagha. | June 17, 2014 at 4:59 pm

        We have the ‘right’ to not be locked up, too. Jail or psych ward.

        That also can be taken away.

THis is not going to stand. ANd people are not going to abide by it. The SCOTUS just did what is the death of any government: make a ruling that people will not obey and they cant enforce.
The ObozoAdmin is also doing likewise with the IRS — as IRS becomes more unlawful, the more we the peeps do not feel inclined to cooperate.
This is a death spiral for the rule of law.

    pjm in reply to sdharms. | June 17, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    Seems to me the guy in question is getting ‘enforced on’ pretty good for the next 5 years. And no ‘people’ are going to do shit about it.

    It DOES and WILL stand.

I’m sure the ATF management in Arizona, Miami and Chicago will be prosecuted for the Fast and Furious gun running.
Has to be next on holder’s list………right after IRS fraud, VA scandal, Benghazi, voter fraud……..et. al.

What about this scenario. I want to use my retired military credentials to purchase a semi-auto pistol at a discount on-line for my son in another state. I go on-line, pay $500, and tell them it is a gift for my son. I give the name of the FFL near my son’s home, but never fill out any paperwork stating that I bought the firearm. The FFL in the other state is happy to process paperwork, background check, transfer fee with my son. Am I guilty of a “straw” purchase?

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