Bad news: it appears that purchasing a gun as a gift for someone else (like a Father’s Day present) may now be considered an illegal “straw” purchase.
A divided Supreme Court sided with gun control groups and the Obama administration Monday, ruling that the federal ban on “straw” purchases of guns can be enforced even if the ultimate buyer is legally allowed to own a gun.
The justices ruled 5-4 that the law applied to a Virginia man who bought a gun with the intention of transferring it to a relative in Pennsylvania who was not prohibited from owning firearms.
At first it seemed that this ruling only applies to situations where gun owner A purchases a firearm with the intent to immediately turn around and sell it to gun owner B (or purchased with gun owner B’s money), where both A and B are lawfully allowed to own said firearm. This is bad enough, but according to the ruling, it appears gifts may also be considered a “straw” purchase.
In the dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote:
The Court makes it a federal crime for one lawful gun owner to buy a gun for another lawful gun owner.
That certainly would seem to cover gifts. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see how this one plays out, for now, something to keep an eye on. You can read more at The Hill and Politico, and you can read the 5-4 decision here.
Update 6/16/2014 15:15 EST:
There’s definitely some confusion where gifts and legality are concerned, both current state and how this ruling will affect giving firearms as gifts.
According to the notices and definitions section for question 11a on the 4473, if you are “legitimately purchasing the firearm as a gift for a third party” then you are still the “Actual Transferee/Buyer” of the firearm. So clearly, current state is that giving a firearm as a gift is perfectly legal.
However, the question in my mind is, does this ruling change that at all? If they are concerned with the intent of the purchase, what is the difference between purchasing with the intent to gift and purchasing with the intent to sell? In both cases you are purchasing a firearm for another lawful gun owner.