Supreme Court Upholds Law Banning Straw Purchases of Guns

It's a crime to pretend that you're buying a gun for yourself from a federally licensed dealer, then transfer it to someone else.

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a law prohibiting people from buying guns on behalf of others from federally licensed dealers. Under these “straw” arrangements, the person buying the gun lies in the application process by representing that the gun is for himself, when in truth he intends to pass it off to someone else. The Supreme Court said that this practice is a federal offense, even if the person to end up with the gun could have lawfully bought it herself.

The case arose from a former police officer buying a handgun for his uncle, ostensibly so that he could get a discount the uncle couldn’t. The uncle was eligible to buy the gun himself, but he nevertheless gave his nephew $400 for the nephew to buy it. When buying the firearm from a federally licensed dealer, the nephew indicated that he was buying it on his own behalf. In reality, though, he intended to and did transfer it to his uncle. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Abramski’s conviction under federal law that prohibits making false statements and representations in the course of firearm purchases. (18 U.S.C. § § 922(a)(6), 924(a)(1)(A).) (Abramski v. U.S., 573 U.S. ___ (2014).)

For more on this case, including the Court’s rationale, see Supreme Court: Straw Purchases of Guns are Illegal.