U.S. News


Supreme Court Upholds Federal 'Straw' Gun Purchase Ban

In a 5-4 ruling, the court upheld a law which makes it illegal to list yourself as a gun's buyer with the intent of selling the gun to someone else.
Posted at 12:31 AM, Jun 17, 2014

In a big victory for gun-control advocates, the highest court in the land upheld a federal law Monday that makes so-called "straw" gun purchases a crime.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of a conviction against former police officer Bruce Abramski who wanted to score a discount for a relative by showing his old police ID to a gun dealer. (Via AlJazeera)

Abramski broke the law when he falsely checked a box on a form claiming the firearm was for him when he actually intended to sell it to his uncle — which is a no-can-do despite the fact both men were legally able to purchase. (Via KRNV)

Justice Elena Kagan wrote in the majority opinion, "Putting true numbskulls to one sideanyone purchasing a gun for criminal purposes would avoid leaving a paper trail by the simple expedient of hiring a straw. ... No piece of information is more important under federal firearms law than the identity of a gun's purchaser." Or, as an MSNBC reporter quoted her:

"The purpose of the law would be eviscerated if the court struck it down. That the law helps to keep guns out of the hands of ... people with mental illness or people with felony convictions." (Via MSNBC)

According to NPR, Kagan also pointed to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives which reportedly found that "nearly half of its gun trafficking investigations involved straw purchasers."

"It will save lives because it will enable law enforcement to crackdown on gun trafficking and straw purchasers that supply the criminal market." (Via KGW-TV)

Gun right supporters argue the decision is more government overreach and Justice Scalia said in the dissenting opinion it lacks common sense.

“In ordinary usage, a vendor sells ... an item of merchandise to the person who physically appears in his store, selects the item, pays for it, and takes possession of it. ... So if I give my son $10 and tell him to pick up milk and eggs at the store, no English speaker would say that the store ‘sells’ the milk and eggs to me.” (Via U.S. Supreme Court)

Monday's ruling was the second this term to go against 2nd amendment supporters. In a unanimous decision back in March, the high court ruled to keep guns out of the hands of domestic violence offenders.