States support prosecutors against straw purchase gun sales

NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman joined a coalition of states on Tuesday supporting the authority of federal prosecutors to enforce laws against straw purchase gun sales.

Schneiderman joined eight other states and the District of Columbia in filing an amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court. The brief argues that straw purchase arrangements in gun sales are federal crimes, whether or not the true buyer is lawfully eligible to possess a firearm. In a straw purchase, an individual buys a gun for someone else, keeping the true buyer's identity concealed from the firearms dealer.

"Concealing the identity of the true buyer of a gun is a crime," Schneiderman said. "Law enforcement relies on truthful and accurate statements on background check forms, not only to weed out purchasers who are barred by law from owning guns, but to trace the origin of a gun if it is used in a future crime. If the Supreme Court prevents federal prosecutors from fully enforcing the law against straw purchases, it will hamstring law enforcement and make all of us less safe."

It is illegal under federal law for a person to knowingly make a false statement related to the purchase of a firearm from a licensed dealer, manufacturer or importer, where the falsehood is material to the legality of the sale or other disposition of the firearm. The amicus brief argues a person who engages in a straw purchase is in violation of the federal statute even if the true purchaser is not barred by law from buying a gun.

Hawaii Attorney General David Louie led the filing of the amicus brief, joined by New York, Oregon, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maryland, Illinois, Delaware, Connecticut and the District of Columbia.

The brief was filed in the case of Abramski v. United States. Bruce Abramski allegedly engaged in a straw purchase arrangement to buy a gun for his uncle who was not legally barred from owning a handgun.

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