On January 22, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Abramski v. United States, a case focused on whether a lawful gun buyer may legally purchase a gun he plans to sell in the future to another lawful gun buyer.
Bruce James Abramski is a former police officer who purchased a Glock because he could get a discounted price and then “transferred the gun to his uncle in Pennsylvania.”
According to Fox News, Abramski “was later indicted under federal law for making a false statement material to the lawfulness of a firearm sale–and for making a false statement with respect to information required to be kept in the records of a licensed firearm dealer” (FFL).
These charges stem from question 11a on ATF background check Form 4473, which asks:
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.
This question is problematic if interpreted the way it was by those who indicted Abramski because striking down the legality of a law-abiding citizen buying a gun which he or she transfers to another law abiding citizen would also affect buying a gun that one plans to give–to transfer as a gift–to a law abiding citizen. That interpretation effectively criminalizes a father buying a rifle for his son for Christmas or a mother buying a handgun to transfer to her daughter who is going off to college.
Moreover, law-abiding citizens have been buying and selling/transferring guns to one another in the United States since 1787.
On the ATF website, question 2 on the ATF Form 4473 FAQ page asks: “Does an unlicensed person need an ATF Form 4473 to transfer a firearm?” Answer: “No. ATF Form 4473 is required only for transfers by a licensee.”
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins.