The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By David G. Savage, Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has upheld federal gun laws that make it a crime when buying a weapon to lie about plans to give it to someone else.

By a 5-4 vote, the justices agreed that a “straw purchaser” of a gun is guilty of a crime, even if he and the ultimate owner are both legally entitled to own firearms.

Justice Elena Kagan said the federal firearms laws assume that gun purchasers will tell the truth when they fill out federal forms and return them to a licensed dealer. One question asks: “Are you the actual buyer of the firearm listed on the form?” It includes, in bold letters, a warning that a dealer cannot sell a weapon to someone who is not the actual buyer.

If buyers were free to lie, she said, it “would undermine — indeed, for all important purposes, would virtually repeal — the gun law’s core provisions.”

The laws aim to keep guns “out of the hands of criminals and others who should not have them,” she said in the decision in Abramski vs. United States. “And no part of that scheme would work if the statute turned a blind eye to straw purchases.”

Speaking for the dissenters, Justice Antonin Scalia said it was not clear that the plain language of the gun laws prohibited a legal buyer from purchasing a weapon for another legal buyer.

The ruling upholds the conviction of Bruce Abramski, a former Virginia police officer, who offered to buy a Glock 19 handgun for an uncle who lived in Pennsylvania. He said he could get the weapon for a better price. He had a $400 check from his uncle when he bought the weapon and falsely checked “Yes” on the form claiming he was the “actual buyer.”

He was later arrested and his belongings searched in an investigation of a bank robbery, but he was charged only with violating the gun-purchase laws. He entered a guilty plea and was given five years of probation. He then appealed, contending his purchase of the Glock was legal because he and his uncle were legal buyers.

Kagan disagreed, noting that it was not legal for him to buy a weapon if he was “merely a straw.”

If he had told the truth, “the sale could not have gone forward,” she noted. Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor agreed.

Photo: Wallyg via Flickr

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

After the Anti-Defamation League again called for Fox News host Tucker Carlson's firing due to his promotion of the white nationalist "great replacement" conspiracy theory, Carlson's first response was to tell a podcast interviewer, "Fuck them." His second was to use his prime-time show to blame a Jew for the resettlement of Afghan refugees in "your" neighborhood, echoing the apparent motivation of the alleged perpetrator of the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue massacre.

Keep reading... Show less

Dominic Pezzola, center rear with grey beard, confronts Capitol Police officer outside U.S. Senate Chambers.

Photo from U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

The next time that right-wing gaslighters—whether Tucker Carlson or other far-right pundits, or Republican congressmen—try to valorize the insurrectionists who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6 by depicting them as harmless protesters, it might be helpful for everyone to review the case of Proud Boy Dominic Pezzola, charged with conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, assault, and multiple other felonies.

Keep reading... Show less
x
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}