Travel back with me now to those dark days when the post-Newtown gun control furies were raging at their ragingest. Double Barrel Joe Biden had been tasked with leading the disarmament push (thank you, Mr. President), and after much sturm und drang, representatives of the NRA were summoned to the White House for an audience with the veep and his “gun violence task force”…as if anything said at that meeting would actually affect the gun-grabbing approach to be taken by the Senate or the administration. One of the primary objections raised by the NRA and others on the pro-gun rights side was that current laws aren’t being enforced, so piling on more laws would be a waste of time and legislative effort. For instance, there had been only 44 prosecutions of over 72,000 instances of false answers on from 4473 in 2010. Do you remember Uncle Joe’s retort? . . .
As dailycaller.com reported at the time, he told the NRA’s Jim Baker,
“And to your point, Mr. Baker, regarding the lack of prosecutions on lying on Form 4473s, we simply don’t have the time or manpower to prosecute everybody who lies on a form, that checks a wrong box, that answers a question inaccurately.”
The ATF and federal prosecutors too damned busy for this petty perjury stuff, Mr. Merchant of Death. Is that all you got?
If they needed any encouragement, “blast ’em through the door” Joe’s admission pretty much gave the green light to the straw purchaser community out there to put the gun trafficking pedal to the illegal purchaser metal. With the feds only pursuing about .06% of 4473 perjury cases, you’ll hit the Powerball jackpot before you’re ever caught buying heaters and then flipping to, um, less-than-qualified buyers.
One of the few unfortunates who lost the legal lottery, though, was retired police officer Bruce Abramski. Being an ex-LEO, he still enjoyed the benefits of a police discount. So when his uncle decided he wanted a little Perfection in his life – and who doesn’t? – Abramski, who lives in Virginia, agreed to buy a GLOCK 19 on the cheap and transfer it to him in Pennsylvania.
Just one problem. When Abranski filled out the 4473, he check ‘yes’ on the box asking if he was the “actual buyer” of the gun. He then transferred the plastic fantastic – through an FFL, as the law requires – to his uncle.
Just how the ATF was tipped to the paperwork fib hasn’t been reported, but Abramski was prosecuted and convicted of being a straw purchaser. He then appealed based on the fact that both he and his uncle are legally allowed to own firearms and that the gun was transferred according to Hoyle. And yesterday the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.
As Emily Miller reports at washingtontimes.com today,
The federal law on “straw purchases” is intended to stop a criminal from having someone who is not a felon, drug user or other miscreant that would get blocked on an FBI background check to buy a gun for him. The buyer, or “straw man,” could then be charged with perjury for lying about the identity of the of the actual purchaser.
The issue in the Abramski case is whether this should apply when a lawful person buys a gun for someone who is legally allowed to own a firearm.
The case could affect future rulings on so-called universal background checks, which requires government approval for private exchanges of firearms. President Obama has pushed to make this a federal law, but he was unable to get enough votes in the Senate to pass it this year. Several states like Colorado and New York are being sued for this same requirement.
That he lied on the 4473 doesn’t appear to be in dispute. But the fact that the Supremes took the case indicates there’s at least some room for interpretation of “actual buyer” there. Stay tuned.