NSSF: Supreme Court decision on “Straw Purchases” does not make gift purchases of firearms illegal

chicks buying guns

This past year, gun sales have been driven by new buyers, including women. (Photo credit: Joe Raedle/Gettys Images)

Following Monday’s Supreme Court decision on straw purchases, the National Shooting Sports Foundation released a statement reminding gun sellers and buyers that buying a firearm as a gift is not illegal.

“The ruling has resulted in confusion among federal firearm licensees, particularly relating to gift purchases of firearms,” the NSSF, the lobby group for gun makers and retailers, said.

The group added, “It is our understanding that the Supreme Court ruling does not make it illegal for a consumer to purchase firearms as gifts.”

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that a straw purchase — buying a gun from a gun store for someone legally prohibited from owning one — does include buying a gun for someone not prohibited from owning one as well.

The ruling stems from the case Abramski v. United States, where a Virginia man was acting as an agent for the true buyer of the firearm, his uncle. By declaring he was the actual buyer on Form 4473, the Virginia man violated the straw purchase law, because in effect he was acting as an agent for his uncle who had provided the money for the purchase.

“As expressly noted in the instructions on the Form 4473 for Section 11.a. Actual Transferee/Buyer:  For purposes of this form, you are the actual transferee/buyer if you are purchasing the firearm for yourself or otherwise acquiring the firearm for yourself (e.g., redeeming the firearm from pawn/retrieving it from consignment, firearm raffle winner),” the NSSF explained, and emphasized, “You are also the actual transferee/buyer if you are legitimately purchasing the firearm as a gift for a third party.”

However, if buying a firearm as a gift still makes you nervous, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives recommends buying a gift certificate instead.

“This way the person receiving the gift can redeem the gift certificate with the retailer and get exactly what he or she wants, and there is no question about who is the “actual buyer of the firearm” and whether the person can lawfully possess a firearm,” the ATF said.