U.S. Supreme Court Rules People Cannot Lie When Buying a Gun

| by Michael Allen

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 today that people must tell the truth when they are buying a gun, and cannot secretly buy it for a third party.

Gun traffickers often use third parties, also called "straw purchasers," to get around federal background checks.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) backed this court challenge against a 1968 law that made it a crime to lie on federal forms when buying a gun, reports Mother Jones.

The NRA claimed in this case, Abramski v. United States, that it did not  matter if the intended owner could or could not legally own a gun.

26 states supported the NRA and claimed the 1968 federal law infringed on their power to regulate (or not regulate) gun sales.

U.S. Supreme Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the majority opinion:

No piece of information is more important under federal firearms law than the identity of a gun's purchaser—the person who acquires a gun as a result of a transaction with a licensed dealer... Putting true numbskulls to one side, anyone purchasing a gun for criminal purposes would avoid leaving a paper trail by the simple expedient of hiring a straw.

The case began when Angel Alvarez, who lives in Pennsylvania, sent his nephew, Bruce Abramski, who lives in Virginia, some money to buy him a gun in order to get a discount price.

Ambraski passed the background check and lied on a federal form that he was the intended owner. The gun was later used in a bank robbery and federal law enforcement tracked down Ambraski, who had nothing to do with the crime.

According to Reuters, Abramski was later convicted for making a false statement when he bought the gun, but he appealed his conviction as Alvarez had not been banned from owning a handgun.

Sources: Mother JonesReuters