Supreme Court Decision on ‘Straw Purchases’ Does Not Make Gift Purchases Illegal

Gavel and Gun
The NSSF brings some Insight on the subject of the Supreme Court's Decision on “Straw Purchases”
National Shooting Sports Foundation
National Shooting Sports Foundation

Washington, DC -( On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a case involving a Virginia man who could legally purchase a firearm and did so for an uncle from Pennsylvania.

Even though the Pennsylvania man who ultimately bought the gun was not legally prohibited from owning a firearm and passed a background check, the Court, in a 5-4 decision, said the transfer violated federal “straw purchase” law.

The ruling has resulted in confusion among federal firearm licensees (FFLs), particularly relating to gift purchases of firearms.

NSSF has asked the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to provide clarification on the Supreme Court's decision for its firearms retailer members. As soon as ATF responds, NSSF will provide the information to all FFLs.

Meanwhile, it is our understanding that the Supreme Court ruling does not make it illegal for a consumer to purchase firearms as gifts. As expressly noted in the instructions on the Form 4473 for Section 11.a. Actual Transferee or Buyer: For purposes of this form, you are the actual transferee or buyer if you are purchasing the firearm for yourself or otherwise acquiring the firearm for yourself (e.g., redeeming the firearm from pawn or retrieving it from consignment, firearm raffle winner).

You are also the actual transferee or buyer if you are legitimately purchasing the firearm as a gift for a third party (emphasis supplied).

In the case of Abramski v. United States the Court ruled in effect that the Virginia man; a former police officer purchasing the firearm at a discounted price, was acting as agent for the true buyer-his uncle. By declaring he was the “actual buyer” on the Form 4473, the Virginia man violated straw purchase law, because in effect he was acting as an agent for his uncle who had provided the funds for the purchase.

NSSF advises retailers wanting an official clarification on how the decision will affect their business to call their ATF field office and ask for a response in writing.

On the matter of purchasing a firearm as a gift, ATF recommends firearms retailers use a gift certificate. This way the person receiving the gift can redeem the gift certificate with the retailer and get exactly what he or she wants, and there is no question about who is the “actual buyer of the firearm” and whether the person can lawfully possess a firearm.

About the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF)

The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 10,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers.

  • 5 thoughts on “Supreme Court Decision on ‘Straw Purchases’ Does Not Make Gift Purchases Illegal

    1. RDNK that is EXACTLY the issue. The issue was that the cop was BUYING the gun with someone elses money. Had he bought the gun and GIVEN it to the Virginia man no problems as long as both states allow transfer without using an FFL or requiring background checking for person to person transfers (Florida doesn’t but CA does for example). As for Joe. If you already own the weapon you can sell it to or give it to anyone you want as long as the state you live in doesn’t require you to process paperwork. In this case the cop didn’t NOT own the weapon he gun shop did and he had to file a form 4473 to obtain it. On that form it asks are you buying this for someone else. he said NO knowing full well the answer was YES. Of course he also committed retail fraud as well since the store only offered the deal to LEOs not family members of LEOs and the cop knew that as well. There is nothing about this whole transaction that doesn’t wreak of fraud and deceit although I don’t always agree with the current SCOTUS and their super liberal decisions this one was right on. Bottom-line was the guy knowingly and with forethought bought a gun for someone else to get a deal that was not intended for the final owner. Doc

    2. So in other words ,if I decide to sell a gun (that I legally purchased) to someone who can legally posses a firearm it means that I am acting as an “agent” for the person who buys it from me?
      Buy it as a gift? What if I decide to gift my relative a firearm that I legally bought? How can I know beforehand what gun I decide to give as a gift to a relative? This is crazy.How can someone read people’s mind and make such interpretations?
      I believe this ruling is a push for the “Universal Background Checks”…

    3. Gift certificates for firearms to be given as gifts…Another “Stupid is as Stupid does” idea…”When will They ever Learn?”…Peter, Paul and Mary.

    4. More nonsense ! So if the PA man wouldn’t had given money to the VA man for the purchase there would be no crime ?

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