The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that the government can enforce the “Straw Man” sale rule even when the person a gun is being bought for is lawfully allowed to own a firearm. Several different Federal Circuit courts had previously ruled on both sides of this issue, prompting the Supreme Court to hear the case. The Supreme Court, in a five-to-four decision, adopted a narrow interpretation of the law, saying the “actual transferee/buyer” must acknowledge that he intends to resell the gun when he buys it, even if the eventual owner is legally entitled to own a gun.
The case involves Bruce Abramski, a former police officer who bought a gun for his uncle, taking advantage of a discount price offered to active and former police officers. Although he made it clear to the dealer that he was buying the gun for his uncle, Abramski checked the box on the ATF form indicating that he was the actual buyer. He bought the gun in Virginia and went to visit his uncle in Pennsylvania, where they went to a gun dealer to complete the transfer and where his uncle passed the firearms check. Abramski was convicted of making false statements on BATFE Form 4473
Abramski appealed on the grounds that the Gun Control Act of 1968 was not intended to restrict transfers between law-abiding individuals and that the question on Form 4473 was illegal. He claimed that the Straw Sale provision only applies when the ultimate buyer of the gun is someone who could not himself legally buy a gun. Based on this ruling, the “Straw Man” sale rule means that no one may ever lawfully buy a gun for another person.