By Peggy Walsh
BCWAC Partner, Legislative Committee
The Bucks County Women’s Advocacy Coalition is pleased to report a small victory in our efforts to support sensible gun control.
On Monday, June 16 in a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to uphold the Federal ban on the resale of “straw” gun purchases. The case arose when a retired Virginia police officer, Bruce Abramski, bought a Glock 19 for his uncle living in Easton, PA. Abramski answered “yes”on the federal form asking: “Are you the actual transferee buyer of the firearm(s) listed on this form?”
When Abramski was arrested for involvement in a bank robbery, he was not charged for the robbery but was charged with making false statements on a federal form. Abramski appealed that his purchase was legal because his uncle in Pennsylvania was legally able to purchase firearms. The federal government argued that if Abrmaski won the appeal, the ability to trace firearms involved in crimes would be severely compromised.
UNDERMINE CORE GUN LAW PROVISIONS
Writing for the majority Justices (Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer and Sotomayor), Elena Kagan wrote that “Abramski’s reading would undermine—indeed, for all important purposes, would virtually repeal—the gun law’s core provisions.” The ability to trace guns to their buyers is essential for law enforcement ‘s investigation of crimes.
Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that the law does not make it a crime for one lawful gun owner to buy a gun from another lawful gun owner. The NRA claimed the ruling to be an erroneous reading of the law and 26 states submitted a brief in support of Abramski. Only nine states weighed in with support of the Obama administration.
APPEARS TO BE OPEN AND SHUT CASE
Making false statements on Federal forms would appear to be an open and shut case. What happens when citizens make false statements on Federal Income Tax forms? The fact that a ruling that seems to be nothing more than common sense, passed with the usual Supreme Court split with Kennedy saving the day, is disheartening, but we need to celebrate small victories in this struggle to stop the gun mania that is gripping this country.
According to bradycampaign.org, each day in the U.S., 32 people are murdered and 140 are assaulted with a gun. The U.S. firearm homicide rate is 20 times higher than the combined rated of 22 countries that are our peers in wealth and population. According to everytownforgunsafety.com, there have been 74 school shootings since Sandy Hook, 15 of them a Newtown-like incident. The country is being held hostage by a well funded and intimidating radical group that believes everyone is coming for their guns.
At the very least, gun advocates should follow the same requirements of honesty as those who sign up for Affordable Health Care and sign their income tax returns. We will take the Supreme Court’s ruling as a step toward some sanity in the gun debate; however, those of us who believe that guns have become a severe threat in this country, must make this issue a priority and let our legislators know that they will be supported in elections, not defeated, because they have an A- rating with the NRA.