Gun Control

Supreme Court Weighs 'Straw' Gun Purchases

Case about a purchase of a gun where the listed buyer is not the ultimate owner


The US Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in a case about legal provisions intended to prevent the "straw" purchases of guns by one individual for other buyers.

In the case — the second taken up by the justices in a week concerning gun laws — former Virginia police officer Bruce Abramski was a straw purchaser who bought a gun for an uncle.

Although both men were legal gun owners, Abramski indicated on a federal form that he was the gun's actual buyer.

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  1. Why would the legal owner of anything be unable to give it a a gift to anyone legally able to own it? I can see a problem if you give a gun to a convicted felon, but otherwise it’s no one’s business.

    1. I agree, but this ATF form (4473, see here) is very specific in the yes-and-no questions. One wrong answer is grounds to deny a sale, and question 11a is the sticky one. Are they the legal owner if they intend to gift it? Does ownership transfer if they gift it?

      Of course people should be allowed to dispose of their property as they see fit. From the point-of-sale my main concern is are they gifting it to someone prohibited from buying firearms. Many of the sales I do are intended gifts for family.

  2. This is of interest to me. I work in the sporting goods department of a Wal-Mart, so I sell guns on an almost daily basis. What exactly constitutes a straw purchase has always been somewhat ambiguous.

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