Published December 20, 2015
The Supreme Court took up a new gun rights case on Wednesday, weighing whether it should be a crime for someone to buy a gun for somebody else, if both people are legally allowed to own one.
Justices on Wednesday heard from Bruce James Abramski, Jr., a former police officer who got in trouble with the law after he bought a Glock 19 handgun in Virginia -- and transferred it to his uncle in Pennsylvania.
Abramski bought the gun because he could get a discount, and checked a box on the relevant form saying the gun was for him. But he sold it to his uncle.
Abramski was later indicted under federal law for making a false statement material to the lawfulness of a firearm sale -- and for making a false statement with respect to information required to be kept in the records of a license firearm dealer.
But Abramski's lawyers told the high court that since both he and his uncle were legally allowed to own guns, the law shouldn't have applied to him.
His team argued that Congress never intended for a lawful buyer who transfers a gun to another lawful owner to be prosecuted under this law -- and that the intent was all about making sure straw buyers don't purchase guns for people not allowed to have them, like certain convicted criminals.
But the government argued that he violated the plain language of the law, when he said on the form that the gun was for him. They argued he never gave the seller any idea that he planned to essentially resell the gun to someone else the dealer would have no opportunity to vet.
Much of Wednesday's arguments centered on the question on the form -- prepared by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives -- and whether the agency's decision to include the question gives it the force of law, enough to make it a crime to answer untruthfully.
A decision in the case is expected by June.
Fox News' Shannon Bream and The Associated Press contributed to this report.