Supreme Court Says You Can't Lie About Gun Purchases. How Is That Even Fair?


Did you hear that? It's the sound of Ted Nugent and Wayne LaPierre's and zombie Charlton Heston's heads, all exploding in glorious concert, because the Supremes ruled against a Gun Thing yesterday, which is weird because we totally figured that the Fab Five conservatives on the Court loved them some rolling back gun regulations as much as they loved rolling back regulations on every other goddamn thing in the world. However, at least in this case, Anthony Kennedy trod?? treaded?? all over freedom and the Bill of Rights by joining the Court's somewhat liberal wing to uphold the straw purchaser law, which prohibits you from saying you're buying the gun for yourself when you're really buying it for someone else. What is this? Soviet Russia???

So this story begins with a cop. Well, a former cop. This bears mentioning, because there are going to be one million email forwards from your uncle about the cop part, so bear with us.

In this case, Bruce Abramski Jr. offered to buy a Glock 19 handgun in Virginia for his uncle in Pennsylvania because Abramski thought he could get a law enforcement discount on the gun. Abramski had previously been a policeman but had been fired from the Roanoke, Va., police department for alleged theft.

Perhaps you'd like to bookmark this next part and keep it handy for when you get the email from your uncle and you want to explain that Bruce Abramski does not sound all that great, now does he? He's fired from being a cop because of ALLEGED WE TOTALLY SAID ALLEGED theft. Then he turns around and figures he can still wheedle a discount from a gun dealer by flashing around his identification card as if he were still a cop, all so that his uncle can get a gun on the cheap. That's some freedom right there. That is most definitely EXACTLY what the Founding Fathers were thinking about when they drafted the Second Amendment.

OK, so Abramski buys the gun. Now, when you buy a gun on the up-and-up, you sign a form saying you are buying it for you and only you. You also sign a different form saying that you know that lying about that particular fact is a federal crime. Abramski signed both those forms and then merrily ignored them.

After he was cleared by the federal database, Abramski gave the gun to his uncle, deposited the uncle's $400 check, and gave him a receipt.

Yep, so we get that it is illegal and all, but how did anyone even find out? Don't we have a right to privacy here in America??? Oh wait.

Federal agents found that receipt while executing a search warrant at Abramski’s home after he became a suspect in a different crime.

OK, should we go over this again so you're ready to talk to your uncle? Ex-cop, fired from the force for maybe being a crimer, takes his now null and void cop ID and flashes it at a gun dealer so he'll get a discount. He signs a form swearing he isn't buying it for anyone else, then turns around and sells it to someone else. Oh, and the cops find the receipt when he's being investigated FOR ANOTHER CRIME. Basically, Bruce Abramski cannot stop criming.

Because he did not want to go to jail, presumably, Abramski appealed his conviction, arguing that he couldn't have committed a crime because his uncle could have purchased the gun legally all along. Justice Kagan explained why that is a totally dumb argument.

Kagan said that Abramski's reading would completely gut the twin purposes of the law — to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and others who should not have them, and to assist law enforcement authorities in investigating serious crimes.

Kagan noted that according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, nearly half of its gun trafficking investigations involve straw purchasers. [...]

Kagan said that were Abramski's view of the law to prevail, it would "render the required records close to useless" for aiding law enforcement. "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," she said.

We can't wait to figure out a way to say "putting true numbskulls to one side" in every post we write going forward.

Basically, what Kagan and the majority held is that if you buy Abramski's idea that he didn't commit a crime because it wouldn't have been a crime for someone else entirely to buy the gun, then you are tossing the straw purchaser law out the window, which is pretty much what Scalia and friends were down for.

Writing for the four dissenters, Justice Antonin Scalia accused the court majority of making it "a federal crime for one lawful gun owner to buy a gun for another lawful gun owner." Joining his dissent were Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.

Not quite, oh red-faced rage-filled one. The law on the books already made that a crime, period. The straw purchaser law doesn't say "hey, totally cool to sell this gun to other people as long as they're good people." It says you can't say you're buying it for yourself and turn around and sell it to someone else. Full stop. Also too is Bruce Abramski, ex-cop and serial alleged crimer, really the person you want as the poster boy for "lawful gun owner"? Haha of course you do, Antonin Scalia, because in your view everyone is a lawful owner just by virtue of being born in the good old USA.

We're going to be bathing in the sweet sweet tears of rage that this ruling has induced for quite some time, we think.

"The government's out of control, and all three branches are united against the people and the Constitution," said Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America.

Larry Pratt, if "the Constitution" stands for "letting super-crimer ex-cop buy gun and lie about it" then we are totally united against the Constitution as well. Also, we'd much rather stand with Justice Kagan than Antonin Scalia any day, and we definitely don't want to hang out with Larry Pratt under any circumstances. Sorry, Constitution. We had a good run, but now we hate you, we guess.

[Abramski v. United States/NPR]


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