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Abramski v. US is the only gun case still pending as the Supreme Court finishes its current term the end of June.

Twenty-five of this term's 70 cases have been fully argued and await decisions. Abramski is one of five that had oral arguments more than four months ago.

It is a very simple case on its facts. A guy buys a Glock 19 handgun from a Federally licensed dealer without disclosing he was buying it for his uncle, knowing he was violating ATF rules.

It's a simple case on the law, too. Gun purchasers must sign an ATF form that states you have to buy the gun for yourself; you cannot buy it for others. Bruce James Abramski was convicted (with a suspended sentence and a slap-on-the-wrist fine). The ATF's rule is simple and clear and it is either lawful or it is not.

Richard D. Dietz for petitioner. Justice Breyer, left, defining

Justice Breyer explains "Mr. Straw" to counsel for Bruce Abramski,
a dubious Justice Scalia and an attentive Justice Kennedy.

So what's the hold up?

Let's go below the orange loophole and speculate about it.

Special thanks to Art Lien for permission to use his drawing. Photography not being allowed at the Supreme Court, Art is featured regularly on SCOTUSblog where he is the resident court artist.  You'll also see his courtroom scenes on NBC News.
Disclaimer. What follows is general information on a law topic. Nothing in this diary constitutes legal advice and it is not to be acted upon as legal advice. Criminal law and procedure - and Supreme Court practice - are law specialties. If you need advice, get it from a skilled professional.
Why might this simple case be a tough one to decide?

Mainly because the law on straw purchases - buyers who buy for others - is a swiss cheese of loopholes and chasms. Much of this is due to legislative compromises the NRA and other pro-gun groups insisted on before allowing a gun control bill to pass. Pro-gun litigators then exploit the results of these compromises, arguing that the laws are defective.

Bruce James Abramski Jr.
Courtesy Franklin (VA) News-Post
Abramski's lawyer and other amicus "friends of the court" argue that the ATF erred in adopting its rule. They contend there was no Congressional support for closing down straw purchases and besides, the ATF adopted its rule without any hearings on it as administrative agencies are required to do. Their conclusion seems to be: Trust the buyer who says he or she will resell only to people who can pass Federal background checks. (They do not explain how the First Buyer could be so sure of that.) And besides, they say, it's not really important whether a buyer eventually resells or not or how soon, and in any event, the ATF used to agree with Abramski's position but it changed its mind twenty years ago, so there!

The government pointed out that the Federal regime of verifications in-person, background checks and weapons tracing relies on accurate purchase information. It was properly skeptical that just trusting buyers would be adequate, seeing that straw purchases are "one of the most common ways criminals get guns."

For further details, links galore.

-  SCOTUSblog is an excellent source for access to written briefs, up-to-date status of cases and commentary by knowledgable observers. Abramski is here.
-  For the facts and arguments: What? Straw Purchase a Gun?
-  For policy issues and a DK poll on the subject: What Should the Law Be?
-  For oral arguments before the Court: The Justices Asked. Counsel Answered.
-  Lyle Denniston has an excellent summary: Argument Recap: When Compromise is the Problem. Recorded oral arguments are available at the Oyez Project.

Some uninformed speculation on what's taking so long to decide.

Decisions in two simple cases argued a month ago were released last Monday with unanimous opinions in each. So in Abramski, it is most likely the justices are not unanimous on the outcome or are divided over the way(s) to explain it, or both. After all, the rationale the majority uses counts for a lot. It is providing guidance to other Federal courts and lawyers in innumerable cases on the subject ... and for DOJ and the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco Enforcement (ATF) in the Executive Branch. Dissents and concurrences count, too, for they can to expose niches in reasoning and are signals for arguments in cases to come.

Moreover, the Straw Purchase Doctrine is important for administration of Federal gun laws. You need to think thoroughly to buck the judgment of the law enforcement agency with responsibility to crack down on illegal sales of firearms in a country rife with guns - now roughly one for every 300-plus million men, women and children in the US.

And note, Abramski v US is not a Second Amendment case (although some amicus filings wish it were). No, this is an application of administrative agency rules and congressional intent. And speaking of Congress, although the Court shouldn't be undertaking too much consideration of politics (a subject for another diary altogether, perhaps for summer beach writing and reading), the justices do look at the Washington Post. They know Congress has a hard time stepping up to gun control issues. To send Straw Purchase back to Congress for a more definitive resolution may be a fool's errand, leaving a void in the law that only the most pro-gun advocates could embrace.

So, What's happening? The Court's Processes. On the Friday after a case is argued in Court, the justices confer and vote on the outcome. The Chief Justice assigns opinion writing to a justice in the majority. (If the CJ is in the minority, the ranking justice in the majority assigns it.) Who gets the nod is based on all kinds of factors, from who talks most articulately or passionately about the case, to whose workload can readily take on drafting another opinion, or perhaps to the justice who looks up from the table at the wrong time. Also, some justices are known for expertise in a particular area of the law, although this would not seem to be so in this case.

The designated justice circulates a draft opinion to the others. Then concurrences and dissents get flushed out, so to speak, in reasoning more elaborate than in the conference. At this stage, do justices' minds change on the outcome of a case? On the rationale for it? On implications for cases that will come later? Sometimes ... although how often and how much is debatable. It is absolutely certain, however, that the texts of opinions change during the circulation process. (Count the many references in J. Scalia's opinion in DC v Heller to the dissents of Justices Stephens and Breyer.) Opinions are also advocacy pieces. Antonin Scalia devotes - by my count - close to a third of his text to those dissents, not just in response but to forcefully rebut them!

A particular fancy of mine is Scalia's opinion in Heller. There is language there to give all sides solace and fodder to argue the extent of Second Amendment rights. For example, some references are sprinkled through it on carrying weapons in public. But the holding of the case is explicitly limited to self-defense in one's home. In a stand alone section, J. Scalia takes pains to specify that "... the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited." He lists examples of acceptable "longstanding prohibitions," "laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places" and "laws impos­ing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms." Not even those caveats are enough.

To put a very fine point on those points, J. Scalia added the tantalizing footnote 26: "We identify these presumptively lawful regulatory measures only as examples; our list does not purport to be exhaustive." Might those sentences and the footnote have been put there to secure the necessary fifth vote for the majority? (After all, except for extending the Heller ruling to the states in McDonald in 2010, the Court has not accepted another Second Amendment appeal in the six years since Heller. This indicates to me that Heller's majority is deliberately restraining itself. And possibly (I am maybe smoking some tea leaves here), the majority itself is fragile. If so, taking the next 2A case could be dicey.

Again, might a justice change his or her mind as opinions are circulated? Yes, certainly on the rationale, if not the outcome. Remember the case that challenged Obamacare, where it was reported that Chief Justice John Roberts changed his vote at the last minute in order to uphold the law.

Sometimes - rarely, but sometimes - the justices will think more about the case and ask the parties to reargue it. The best recent example of this is Citizens United, when C.J. Roberts himself asked for reargument during the next term in what began as a relatively narrow "case of modest importance."

I am not suggesting any particular explanation for the time the Court is taking to release a decision in Abramski. Speculation is hazardous, of course, and it is engaged here in purely impurely for guilty enjoyment.

That said ... what do you think?

The Daily Kos Firearms Law and Policy group studies actions for reducing firearm deaths and injuries in a manner that is consistent with the current Supreme Court interpretation of the Second Amendment. If you would like to write about firearms law please send us a Kosmail.

To see our list of original and republished diaries, go to the Firearms Law and Policy diary list. Click on the ♥ or the word "Follow" next to our group name to add our posts to your stream, and use the link next to the heart to send a message to the group if you have a question or would like to join.

We have adopted Wee Mama's and akadjian's guidance on communicating.  Most important, be kind. We're all in this together.

Originally posted to TRPChicago on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 02:05 PM PDT.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA and Firearms Law and Policy.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (10+ / 0-)

    2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

    by TRPChicago on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 02:05:22 PM PDT

  •  This really interesting about how they decide (4+ / 0-)

    who writes the Opinion. I never knew much about their decision making process or that they could reschedule a case for another round of arguments.

    Thanks for putting this together and reminding us about the issues.

    And cool sketch and caption. Thank you, Art Lien!

    "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” — William Arthur Ward

    by LilithGardener on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 02:21:13 PM PDT

  •  So What Happens Next? (3+ / 0-)

    Thank you for the update on this particular case.

    What happens with this case now?  Do the justices go on leave and then settle the case as part of their next term?

    "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

    by Hugh Jim Bissell on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 03:37:39 PM PDT

    •  a decision (3+ / 0-)

      A decision will most likely be issued next week.  Either on Monday or Thursday[they've announced they're issuing opinion(s) on Monday, but Thursday is just assumption based on prior years].  And if not they will issue a decision on a later Monday/Thursday in June.  The last day of the session is Monday June 30.

      There are 2 other cases that scotusblog doesn't define as major which were argued before it, Mayorkas and Exec Benefits, so I think the diarist is reading too much into the fact that a decision hasn't been issued yet.

      •  Perhaps I'm over-reading. It was just too much... (3+ / 0-)

        ... fun to speculate. The devil made me do it!

        But since I've done it, where do you think this will come out? It's a pretty clear cut issue. It can be explained on several different rationale, but I don't see much subtlety on the outcome itself. On this, am I under-reading the complexity of this case, do you think?

        2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

        by TRPChicago on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 04:21:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh I have no idea (3+ / 0-)

          But anytime you start to argue that it should be open and shut, you get in why did SCOTUS even take it territory.  And even cases it decides in a month or two it took.

          I will say it is interesting to look at it in the context of yesterday's Bond ruling.  Does the statue literally read as enforced or could Congress not possibly have meant that interpretation?  I'm not sure I buy the government has an interest in tracing a gun angle.  Wasn't it just as traceable since he did the transfer through a gun dealer?

          •  Here's the statute and ATF rule. (You asked!) (3+ / 0-)

            18 USC Sec. 922 (a nearly unparsable melange) sets out a list of "prohibited persons" - such as juveniles, felons, fugitives, drug addicts, the mentally incompetent and aliens - and makes it illegal for gun dealers to sell firearms to them. To enforce this and other provisions of Federal law, Congress also made it unlawful for a gun purchaser (1) to make any false statement “with respect to any fact material to the lawfulness of the sale” and (2) to make any false statement or representation on the records a gun dealer is required to keep concerning the transaction.

            That is the context for Q11a in the ATF's Form 4473 which purchasers must sign before dealers can make the sale:

            a. Are you the actual transferee/buyer of the firearm(s) listed on this form? Warning: You are not the actual buyer if you are acquiring the firearm(s) on behalf of another person. If you are not the actual buyer, the dealer cannot transfer the firearm(s) to you.
            So No, Congress didn't explicitly cover straw purchasers. But the way the ATF could assure that the person who is standing in front of the dealer is a qualified buyer (identification, a resident, background check, etc.) was to get that Q11a representation from him and try to close off fast turnaround resale. The ATF promulgated its form without any grant from Congress to make such rules and without any visible administrative procedure.

            I covered all that in an earlier diary. Yes, in those arcanities lie the ways the government could lose this case. But the basic principle is simple: identify the buyer and have him swear he's the real buyer. Can such a requirement be lawfully imposed?

            What really makes this case messy are the myriad ways Mr. Straw Buyer can get around the rule, like selling the gun he just bought to one of the bidders waiting for him in the parking lot outside the gun shop. Or gun shows, private sales, etc. Much oral argument time was devoted to these points.

            As for weapons tracing, you're right. This case did not deal with the problem since Abramski transferred the gun to his uncle through another dealer, leaving a trail as contemplated in the law. But the government argued it because it's still relevant ...

            ... the defect in Abramski's case is the Trust Me business. To give Abramski what he wants would essentially void the ATF's straw purchase protection. Flimsy as that reed is, it is there and the ATF and FBI use it.

            In an era when universal background checks and registration of guns and owners seem politically impossible to enact, this simplistic approach to straw purchases is one of the few tools available.

            2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

            by TRPChicago on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 07:32:34 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Yes... (3+ / 0-)

            It was traceable.  I think they wanted this guy for some other charge, and found the check for the gun during their investigation.  

            Stupid...it's the new smart for right wingers.

            by StevenD56 on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 07:43:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Blame me, I begging TRP to speculate (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TRPChicago, Glen The Plumber

        so I could understand how to place my bet (see above).

        "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” — William Arthur Ward

        by LilithGardener on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 04:52:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  It is just... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LilithGardener, Glen The Plumber

    this type of case that I find exasperating.  Why make a felon out of people who had no intent of foul play?  They wanted to save a few bucks and ATF literally makes a federal case out of it?

    You can buy a gun as a gift. You are not buying on behalf of another; You are buying on behalf of yourself to give a gift.  If he would have given the gun to his uncle then there wouldn't be a problem.  

    Here is what I want the court to do.  Overturn the conviction.  Tell ATF to write the form to prevent straw purchases for illegal purposes.  

    Of course, if every transfer required a background check, we could eliminate the straw purchase question entirely.  It would serve no purpose.  

    Stupid...it's the new smart for right wingers.

    by StevenD56 on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 06:23:55 PM PDT

    •  Wow - Steve cuts straight to the solution (4+ / 0-)
      Of course, if every transfer required a background check, we could eliminate the straw purchase question entirely.  It would serve no purpose.  

      "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” — William Arthur Ward

      by LilithGardener on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 07:23:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, although a registration system belongs ... (3+ / 0-)

        ... in the package, too.

        Why would legit gun owners - hunters, target practicers, hobbyist collectors, home self-defenders - object to a registration system with competency standards no more burdensome that we have for cars and drivers?

        2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

        by TRPChicago on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 07:51:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Registration... (3+ / 0-)

          always leads to confiscation.  At least it is that way in the RWGC.  They are up in arms about registration and confiscation in NY and Connecticut.

          All my hand guns are registered as required by Clark County Nevada Ordinance.

          I live in constant fear of the Jack Booted Thugs coming to take my 22 target pistol.  //snark

          Stupid...it's the new smart for right wingers.

          by StevenD56 on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 08:16:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Lilith asked about confiscations once. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FrankRose, LilithGardener

            With only an hour on google, I found many for her. Here is the thread.

            MLK Jr 1968 "Maybe we just have to admit that the day of violence is here, and maybe we have to just give up and let violence take its course. The nation won't listen to our voice - maybe it'll heed the voice of violence."

            by JayFromPA on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 05:31:39 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Jay, the confiscation blockage to registration ... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              LilithGardener, Glen The Plumber

              ... deserves longer discussion.

              I minimize it because I think it is much overblown, but I know it is not trivial. And, pro-gun advocates make it an absolute No Deal issue that seems to trump other meaningful gun reforms.

              What say we try to work out a diary that explores the confiscation concerns in more detail than we can here? That should shed light on the issue and head toward further understanding.

              Anyone else interested in exploration of this as an alternative to polarization?

              2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

              by TRPChicago on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 07:03:45 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Maybe (3+ / 0-)

                If it clarifies even the use of the word that is better than the unending comment loop, frustrations and polarization, as you call it

                See, with respect to the WA recent law allowing confiscation of domestic violence abusers' weapons, I'm told it's great, just lovely, and I believe the CA proposal is in the same, reasonable realm

                But then I read here that even what many think are modest proposals are absolutely unacceptable and in line with the worst of the worst, end of the world

                If it hasn't been done before, maybe, I'm just a little gun shy of it having anything helpful come of it

                •  I'm hunting for a reasonable and principled ... (3+ / 0-)

                  ... dialog. You're right - it's hard to find one on the subject of confiscation.

                  Confiscation has happened, and in some iffy cases. For example, the New Orleans police chief's decision to confiscate weapons as an urgent public-safety imperative when 80% of his town was flooded. Nevertheless, that action deprived citizens of critical means for self-defense in their home in a very troublous time. Also, it could be used unfairly by a over-aggressive law enforcement ("martial law!) and it's a situation where judges would certainly be reluctant to grant broad search and seize warrants.

                  Confiscation has also happened in cases that were on the margin at the outset, cases of marginal weapons like the "curio-and-relic" SKS. On that, I yield no solace to gun-huggers (sorry about that phrase, but in this, I think it's apt), despite how strongly they feel about collecting old war weapons.

                  Your dilemma - the Absolute polarizes - is why I'd like to vent this in a space like FLAP. But I'm not for fool's errands, either. Perhaps we'll get nowhere, and wind up proving the other side's point - whichever Other Side one is on!

                  2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

                  by TRPChicago on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 07:58:03 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Again, it seems poorly defined (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Glen The Plumber, LilithGardener

                    As is your reference to the term martial law (!), further suggestion that without framing it I think it's going to be inflammatory, though perhaps that serves purpose in itself, I don't know

                    I like that you used specific examples, however if it were to be framed, some important points:

                    When examples are used, how is it 'confiscation,' what is the relevant policy or law, did the law call it confiscation or are we borrowing the term (eg part of a ban), what was the purpose of the law, and what was the circumstance, is it separate from 1. emergency, 2. marital law and 3. public safety, or is one or more applicable  

                    If it is generalized talk, one example surely is the assault weapons ban, perhaps one of our legal beagles could drop in for help us frame this, perhaps the original language, rationale and debate at the time, and current status and rationale

                    Anyway, need to move on to a rather boring day, see you later

                    •  Good points, but we have to deal with lurid ... (3+ / 0-)

                      ... rhetoric at some stage. I'd like a foundation beneath such issues as this that doesn't sidestep, but meets the arguments and the rhetoric head on.

                      As for "confiscation," I think that's the term the objects of it will use and we rarely will. Like the other side uses "aliens" and "amnesty."

                      2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

                      by TRPChicago on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 09:24:41 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

            •   The intersection with racist LEOs is still (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              TRPChicago, Glen The Plumber

              an important issue too, in many places. I've written before that if i lived in a jurisdiction like Chief Kessler's or Joe Arpaio's, I would not want law enforcement to have a map of where all the legal gun owners live.

              I'm sympathetic to the concerns and believe that I understand them. If anyone writes a diary about the issue, I'd be eager to read it. I encouraged you by Kosmail to write that diary, and then leave it up so people can refer back to it to understand the issue.

              How many months ago was that, Jay?

              "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” — William Arthur Ward

              by LilithGardener on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 07:51:45 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I don't do other's work for them. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Kasoru
                I encouraged you by Kosmail to write that diary, and then leave it up so people can refer back to it to understand the issue.

                How many months ago was that, Jay?

                I spent ONE hour looking at links on google, discarded many that didn't match what I was looking for, and that thread contained what did match.

                You want a diary on confiscations, get off the couch and do it your own self. Crowdsource it to your group members. After all, you asked for examples of a gun registry being misused and I gave you a good starting point. 43North added some info to which you replied:

                Interesting, very interesting (1+ / 0-)

                New York is such a smorgasboard of delights, it yields some of its history gradually.

                I have a pile of homework now - oh joy!

                So really, go do your own homework. Because it sure sounds like you're trying to treat me like some research lackey, which I do not like at all.

                MLK Jr 1968 "Maybe we just have to admit that the day of violence is here, and maybe we have to just give up and let violence take its course. The nation won't listen to our voice - maybe it'll heed the voice of violence."

                by JayFromPA on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 11:46:56 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  Yup, you've identified some gaps. But ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LilithGardener, Glen The Plumber

      ... what would give the ATF the ability "to prevent straw purchases for illegal purposes"? How would you rewrite the form? - "If you intend to resell, name the buyer and ..."

      Does Mr. Straw Buyer even know who he'll sell to next? How can he know or be sure that his repurchaser can pass a background check?

      I grant you the present system is highly flawed but at least the firearm buyer is on notice of the regimen and has to swear to something. In this case, Bruce James Abramski Jr. knew exactly what he was doing and that it was a violation of Federal law. Why overturn his conviction?

      2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

      by TRPChicago on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 07:43:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The ATF doesn't... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Glen The Plumber

        need to worry about straw purchases.  If I buy a gun, a background check is performed and I don't get the gun unless I pass.

        Next, if I go to sell the gun, I can't sell unless the potential buyer also passes a background check.  If I sell anyway, I've committed a crime at that point and the ATF can arrest me once they find out about it.

        Why overturn his conviction?  IANAL, but my father was.  He once told me that the law doesn't concern itself with trivialities, which is what this is.

        Stupid...it's the new smart for right wingers.

        by StevenD56 on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 08:24:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You can sell the gun without a background check... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Glen The Plumber

          ... in a private sale, and it's not a crime. No background check, no record, no crime, no sweat.

          But not trivial. Congress wasn't troubled (or was lobbied heavily: take your pick) over those little one-on-sales, and gifts that pass along the family musket, and raffles, and the occasional sale/purchase in a gun show that needn't be accounted for. Remember, this whole regime applies only to Federally licensed dealers.

          For some clever business people, those sales here and there become duffle bags of weapons - a very lucrative enterprise, indeed: Gunrunning 101. That ATF form didn't snare David Lewisbey at Indiana gun shows because except for a few isolated instances, he didn't buy from Federal dealers.

          The system can be got 'round, but that doesn't make it trivial. It means it should be strengthened, not blown away.

          2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

          by TRPChicago on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 05:06:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You prove my point. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            LilithGardener
            You can sell the gun without a background check.
            Which is exactly what is going on right now.  All those sellers who sold to Lewisby are selling to Lewisby's successor without any fear of penalty.  If they were required to perform a background check, at a minimum they wouldn't be doing so openly.  And many wouldn't be selling at all.  Further, the price of black market guns would go up if the penalty for selling to prohibited persons went up.

            In this case, we have a question on a form to prohibit people transferring guns to criminals.  The gun in question was never in the hands of such a criminal.  There was never any threat to the public from this transaction.  

            So, we have a person convicted for something entirely different than what the form was trying to prevent.  

            Perhaps I need a different quote from my deceased father.  He also told me "the law is an ass".  I agree with Dad, at least in this case.

            Stupid...it's the new smart for right wingers.

            by StevenD56 on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 04:45:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  With a background check... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LilithGardener

        required for every transfer, there is just no need for ATF to concern itself with straw purchases.  ATF is only concerned with straw purchases to prevent prohibited persons from acquiring firearms.  Universal background checks (UBC) for every transfer accomplishes this.  It also makes sure every party to the transfer has some skin in the game, unlike now.  

        The difference between now and a scheme with UBC is that all parties involved in the transfer must be sure the transfer is not to a prohibited person, or face the penalties for a felony.

        Stupid...it's the new smart for right wingers.

        by StevenD56 on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 05:08:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  OK, but we don't have a UBC now. And it's ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          StevenD56, LilithGardener

          ... pretty unlikely we will, given the sway the NRA and others have over Congress.

          So until we do, why do away with the ATF's straw purchase Q11a? Whatever rationale lets Abramski off opens a hole, probably a huge one, in the administration of the Federal gun laws.

          Not to trivialize your point, but it sounds to me like you'd make the question: "It's OK for you to buy a gun for someone else - whoever that may be - if you think they can pass a background check. Can he or she?" (Would a purchaser know? For sure? If they're wrong ...?)

          OR would you name the recipient, so the dealer could do a check on the spot? That would run afoul of another Federal rule that says the purchaser must be present before the dealer, to assure ID's, sign forms, etc. If you can't name the recipient, can you still buy a gun you're going to resell soon?

          I'm not trying to torment you, but I think letting Abramski - who knew better - off the hook on the grounds of No Harm/No Foul is a more destructive principle than it sounds. This isn't an area where "Trust Me" has proven to work well.

          2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

          by TRPChicago on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 06:17:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            LilithGardener
            I'm not trying to torment you, but I think letting Abramski - who knew better - off the hook on the grounds of No Harm/No Foul is a more destructive principle than it sounds. This isn't an area where "Trust Me" has proven to work well.
            I can see your point.  But I also think making felons of people for nominal transgressions undermines the legitimacy of government.

            You keep coming back to the form.  I don't think any question on the form makes much difference.  Your previous diary made that clear.  I've said it before and I will say it again;  if you want a gun, you can get a gun.  The form is a band aid on a sucking chest wound, an ineffective tool that allows us to indulge ourselves in the fiction that we are doing something to stop the illegal gun trade.

            Stupid...it's the new smart for right wingers.

            by StevenD56 on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 06:39:18 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  There are ways around any system. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              StevenD56

              And because of the way gun laws have to get through Congress, there are a lot of loopholes that, unfortunately, sidestep making many kinds of post-sale transfers illegal. Not to mention using fake IDs and corrupt dealers who sell guns off the books.

              According to the National Gun Victims Action Council:

              Nearly 60% of the guns used in crime are traced back to a small number—just 1.2%—of crooked gun dealers. ...

              Straw purchasing is the most common way criminals get guns, accounting for almost 50% of trafficking investigations.

              You can view these stats as indications of how hopeless stanching gunrunning is, or with relief that at least some measures are somewhat effective, or we wouldn't even have these numbers.

              Bruce Abramski deliberately lied, intuitionally getting the beginning of the purchase process wrong. He shouldn't get off the hook for complying with the rest of it (the mechanics of the transfer). I think he's lucky that his uncle didn't lie to him about being able to pass that background check.

              2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

              by TRPChicago on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 07:42:53 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  It was the FFL... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                TRPChicago

                dealer in PA that performed the background check and handled the transfer.  This shows me he wasn't trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes.

                If I was on the jury, I would have voted not guilty.  I am not going to make a felon out of a liar when their was no ill intent and the lie harmed no one.

                there are a lot of loopholes that, unfortunately, sidestep making many kinds of post-sale transfers illegal.
                We partially agree here.  I think there is one giant loophole, not requiring a background check with every transfer.  Sure there will be people who break the law and sell illegally.  The way it is now, you don't have to break any law to sell a gun to anybody.  If you don't hold an FFL,  don't ask any questions you don't want the answer to, and you are free to sell.  There is no form to fill out, no recordkeeping required, no due diligence necessary, just take the money and walk.

                Stupid...it's the new smart for right wingers.

                by StevenD56 on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 08:46:51 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Steve, I disagree about the form being useless (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              StevenD56, TRPChicago

              The reason is that no one, including the dealer can really know all the answers to those questions. Putting the form in front of people is a way to confront them with the law each and every time.

              I'd like to see suicide prevention literature with suicide hot line info passed out with the form. Even if it's thrown away 99% of the time, it would probably help some desperate people stop and think before going through with their plan.

              "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” — William Arthur Ward

              by LilithGardener on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 09:46:06 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I didn't say... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                LilithGardener

                useless.  I said it was ineffective.  It is ineffective at preventing the illegal gun trade.  

                Does it make a good citizen think about whether or not they are allowed to purchase a gun?  Sure it does.

                Does it allow an unscrupulous FFL holder to sell to a person who can pass a background check even if they suspect the guns will end up in criminal hands? Yes.  

                I could go out and buy a gun tomorrow without a form.  Say Mr. Private Gun Seller, "don't ask me no questions and I won't tell you no lies".  

                Stupid...it's the new smart for right wingers.

                by StevenD56 on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 01:29:28 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Yes, those are ways to get around the law. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  StevenD56

                  We disagree that Abramski's case is trivial, but SCOTUS's upcoming decision should resolve that. (I'll do a diary on it, hopefully the same day it's released. With FLAP coinage or virtual bourbon at stake, you'd better verify my objectivity.)

                  Sounds like you'd support universal background checks. We're certainly together on that.

                  Good conversation. Thanks!

                  2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

                  by TRPChicago on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 05:26:32 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  Well folks, I'm an old guy and I gotta fade. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LilithGardener, Glen The Plumber

    Go ahead and argue among yourselves. I'll catch up with you again in the morning.

    2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

    by TRPChicago on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 08:02:40 PM PDT

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