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The Supreme Court on Wednesday debated whether a Virginia man who bought a gun for a relative in Pennsylvania can be considered an illegal straw purchaser when both men were legally eligible to purchase firearms.

The justices heard an appeal from Bruce James Abramski Jr., a former police officer. Abramski bought a Glock 19 handgun in Collinsville, in Southside Virginia, in 2009 and transferred it to his uncle in Easton, Pa., who paid him $400.

Abramski was arrested after police thought he was involved in a bank robbery in Rocky Mount, Va. No charges were ever filed on the bank robbery, but officials charged him with making false statements about the purchase of the gun.

Abramski answered “yes” on a federal form asking, “Are you the actual transferee buyer of the firearm(s) listed on this form? Warning: You are not the actual buyer if you are acquiring the firearm(s) on behalf of another person. If you are not the actual buyer, the dealer cannot transfer the firearm(s) to you.”

Abramski’s lawyers told the high court that since he and his uncle were legally allowed to own guns, the law should not have applied to him.


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