It might seem like idiocy on steroids, but that’s kinda how our Federal Government operates. Ever thought about helping out a family member by buying them that hunting rifle they’ve been looking at, or that Glock 19 they’ve been talking about getting? Well, prepare for prison if you buy it for them. A well established, and yet often ignored, law that was designed to stop criminals from getting their hands on guns through a third party might actually make more criminals than it catches.
Anyone here remember the “Fast and Furious” scandal? Ya know, where the ATF and Department of Justice decided to help straw purchasers walk guns into Mexico for drug cartels? Thousands of guns were handed over, with the Fed’s knowledge and consent, to cartels that take hostages, kill civilians, and proliferate drug related violence in the US and Mexico.
Apparently, as evidenced by the agency’s disinterest in conducting investigations into the operation, such government run straw purchases – that benefit drug cartels – are not a terrible threat to public safety. But letting family members purchase each other guns? Whoa. . . We can’t permit such dastardly, and potentially lethal, activity to go unchecked. . .
Last week the Supreme Court heard the case of a Virginia man who legally purchased a gun – then resold it to another legally eligible individual. According to the Washington Times, “Both men were legally entitled to own a gun. Both passed the required background checks. As an ex-cop, Mr. Abramski bought a Glock 19 and obtained a law-enforcement discount. He consulted three federally licensed dealers to make sure he did everything by the book when he transferred the gun to his uncle in Pennsylvania.” Thank heaven the ATF caught that retired police officer who had the audacity to buy a gun for his law-abiding uncle. I know I’ll sleep better tonight.
The intent behind prosecuting straw purchases (unless conducted in conjunction with Mexican drug lords and ATF informants) is supposed to be to keep lawful citizens from purchasing a gun for people who are disallowed from owning a firearm. The High Court is expected to make a decision in regards to whether or not this federal law should apply to situations where the straw purchaser (in this case Mr. Abramski) purchased a firearm for a person who is legally allowed to own a firearm.
The stunning part of the Abramski saga, is that he only became the focus of an ATF investigation because he’s an otherwise law abiding citizen. He just as easily could have driven to Pennsylvania, given the gun to his uncle in exchange for cash with no paperwork or background check, and no-one other than the two family members would have had any knowledge of the deal.
The case should serve as an example of government’s inability to regulate away criminal behavior. The recent batch of gun control laws passed in states like Colorado and New York, for instance, routinely create criminals out of ordinary citizens rather than preventing deliberate criminal activity. With a stroke of his Mayors-Against-Illegal-Guns fountain pen, Governor Hickenlooper (D-CO) signed a law that turned many of his state’s citizens into potential criminals.
For example, as the great state of New-New-York struggled with recent floods, thousands of Coloradoans found they were running afoul of the state’s newest gun control laws. As homes were left abandoned, and entire communities were cut off from aid, the newest batch of state laws made it illegal for gun owners to have friends or family members “babysit” their legally obtained firearms. Local District Attorneys decided not to pursue any charges.
But not all examples of unintentional (or maybe intentional) criminalization of gun owners have such happy endings. The state of New Jersey convicted an otherwise law-abiding citizen for “illegally possessing” firearms within the city – even though they were legally purchased – because he dared to stop at his mother’s house for a cup of coffee. A concealed carry permit holder, and former Marine, was arrested in New York City after he saw a sign that read “no guns allowed” at the Empire State building, and tried to turn his firearm over to the building’s security desk.
So while criminals obtain weapons from drug dealers, gun runners, and black market sources (not to mention the DOJ and the ATF), the Feds are busy tracking down those nefarious family “straw purchases,” and prosecuting honest people who violate an increasingly complicated web of regulations and restrictions.
Nothing about Mr. Abramski’s actions indicate he was focused on subverting the law, engaged in nefarious business, or out to conduct illegal activities. He merely is a casualty of overzealous attempts from government to regulate away criminality. . . Which doesn’t really work. By their own admission, criminals are not prone to following laws, regulations or even kind suggestions.
Had the retired police officer decided to subvert the law, avoid the background checks, and operate outside the intent of the law, he might still be walking around today without being the center of a Federal Case. Instead, his honest intentions landed him directly in the cross hairs of the ATF.
Because, let’s face it, it’s a whole lot easier to harass law abiding citizens than criminals.