FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE • January 22, 2014 • Contact: Jennifer Fuson 202-370-8128 or media [at] bradynetwork [dot] org
Decision Could Make Many Straw Purchases of Guns Legal
Washington, DC—Today the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Abramski v. U.S., a case that could fundamentally change the law that prevents criminals from buying guns.
The heart of this case is the law requires the purchaser of a gun from a federally licensed gun dealer to undergo an instant background check. Currently, federal law prohibits “straw purchases”—when a sham buyer purchases a gun for another person, avoiding the instant background check. The defendant in Abramski argued to the Supreme Court today that straw purchases are legal under federal law.
“If the Court accepts the gun lobby argument that federal law allows for straw purchases of guns, the felons, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill will be able to easily circumvent the Brady background check system to obtain guns from licensed dealers,” said Jonathan Lowy, Director of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence’s Legal Action Project. “The gun lobby’s position would undercut Congress’s primary purposes in enacting the Gun Control Act and the Brady law.”
The instant background check, put in place 20 years ago when Congress passed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, was intended to enforce the law that prohibits criminals and fugitives from owning firearms that has been in place since 1968.
In Abramski the Court is considering if it is illegal for someone to buy a gun for another, even if the intended owner of the gun is legally allowed to do so. In this case, Bruce James Abramski bought a gun for his uncle. Both are legally allowed to own a gun, but Abramski bought the gun and underwent the criminal background check required to purchase the gun, even though his uncle was the intended owner.
“The gun industry itself acknowledges that a significant percentage of the firearms used in crimes are obtained through straw purchases. The industry therefore recognizes the importance of the NICS background check system and the need for prospective firearm purchasers to provide accurate and truthful information so as to curb the unlawful acquisition of guns by criminals,” reads the amicus brief submitted by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, and the International Brotherhood of Police Officers.
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Jonathan Lowy, Executive Director of the Brady Legal Action Project, Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence is available for comment and legal analysis of the case.
The mission of the Brady organization is to create a safer America for all of us that will lead to the dramatic reduction in gun deaths and injuries that we all seek.