Firearm purchase by a nephew for his uncle violated criminal law as a “straw man purchase” despite both the nephew and uncle being legally eligible to purchase the firearm.

//Firearm purchase by a nephew for his uncle violated criminal law as a “straw man purchase” despite both the nephew and uncle being legally eligible to purchase the firearm.
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Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals finds a nephew’s purchase of a gun for his uncle violated criminal law where the nephew told the firearm dealer he was the actual buyer.

In U.S. v. Abramski, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals addressed federal requirements for purchasing a gun. If you have been charged with a state or federal gun crime or other crime, contact an experienced criminal lawyer at Pisarik Law Firm to discuss your criminal law defense.

Case:

U.S. v. Abramski, 706 F.3d 307 (4th Cir. Ct. App. 2013)

Issue:

Whether a nephew’s purchase of a firearm for his uncle violated criminal law where the nephew told the firearm dealer he was the actual buyer of the firearm when in fact he was purchasing the gun for his uncle, but where both the nephew and uncle were legally eligible to purchase the gun.

Facts:

Bruce Abramski was a former police officer and offered to purchase a Glock 19 firearm for his uncle, Angel Alvarez, from a firearm dealership that catered to police officers in the area. Prior to the purchase, Abramski spoke with three licensed federal firearms dealers who advised that Abramski could complete the transfer to his uncle after he purchased the firearm. On November 15, 2009, Alvarez sent a check to Abramski for $400 dollars with “Glock 19 handgun” written in the memo line of the check. On November 17, 2009, Abramski went to the firearm dealership and purchased a Glock 19, among other things, and paid for them with more than $2,000.00 in cash.

At the time of the purchase, Abramski completed ATF Form 4473 which contained several questions about the purchase of the firearm. Question 11.a. on the ATF Form 4473 stated: “Are you the actual transferee/buyer of the firearm(s) listed on this form?” Included with this question was a specific warning stating that a person is not considered the actual buyer if they are acquiring a firearm on behalf of another person. Abramski answered yes to Question 11.a. on the Form 4473 that he was the actual buyer of the firearm.

On November 20, 2009, Abramski completed the firearm transfer to Alvarez at a licensed federal firearms dealership in Pennsylvania. On November 20, 2010, Abramski was indicted under federal criminal law for making a false statement on ATF Form 4473 by stating that he was the actual buyer of the handgun and with making a false statement with respect to information required to be kept in the records of a licensed firearm dealer.

Holding:

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held that Abramski was merely a “straw purchaser” of the firearm that was immediately transferred to Alvarez in violation of federal criminal law. Abramski argued that, “because he and Alvarez were legally entitled to purchase such a firearm, he was not a “straw purchaser” and his “Yes” answer on the ATF Form 4473 representing that he was the “actual buyer”… was not material and was never intended to be punished by the Gun Control Act of 1968, or by Federal Law Section 922(a)(6) or Section 924(a)(1)(A).” Abramski argued these criminal laws were enacted to keep firearms out of the hands of those people not legally entitled to possess them.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals acknowledged that other circuits are split on this issue. However, this Court found that the identity of the actual purchaser is always material to the lawfulness of a firearm acquisition under Section 922(a)(6). The Court pointed to the specific warning in the ATF Form 4473 that notified Abramski that if he was purchasing the gun for someone else, he was not the actual buyer. Here, the Court reasoned that the evidence showed that the gun transfer to Alvarez was not an afterthought, but was instead, the sole reason that Abramski bought the gun in the first place.

Contact a criminal lawyer at Pisarik Law Firm to discuss your criminal law defense.

Just because the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals determined that the purchase of the firearm in this case violated criminal law does not mean that you are guilty of your criminal law charge. If you have been charged with a crime, contact a criminal lawyer at Pisarik Law Firm for a free consultation to discuss your criminal defense today. 803-415-2733

2017-07-25T17:38:53+00:00