Let's say I have an imaginary friend named Joe Blow. Joe is a deacon in his church, a school teacher, an Eagle Scout, and an all-around pillar of the community. He has never had so much as a speeding ticket, and is a fellow resident of the Great State of Indiana.
Now, envision the following two scenarios:
- Joe hears that ABC Arms, a gun store near me, has a sale on Blastomatics. Since Joe lives a few counties away, he says to me "Hey, Tam, can you go buy one of those Blastomatics for me? I'll cut you a check to reimburse you and throw it in the mail tomorrow." I go to ABC Arms and buy him the Blastomatic.
- Joe hears that a friend of his who lives near me has a Blastomatic for sale. He calls me up: "Hey, Tam, can you go buy that Blastomatic from Fred for me? He wants to do cash face-to-face. I'll cut you a check to reimburse you and throw it in the mail tomorrow." I go to Fred's house and buy him the Blastomatic.
The answer is "#1". In both cases it could be argued that I am not the actual buyer, but only acting as an agent for the real purchaser, but only in one of them could it be argued that I had committed a federal crime because a "straw purchase" is a crime that consists solely of perjuring yourself on question 11.a on Form 4473(pdf):
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.It is not, as I am seeing elsewhere on the 'net, "when you purchase for a buyer you know or suspect to be ineligible."
The BATFEIEIO's own "Don't Lie For The Other Guy!" ad campaign only muddies the water by making people think "Well, Joe Blow's not a crook! He could pass a background check!"
Abramski was an attempt to get the court to strike down part of GCA '68. It failed. The defendant could have been a more sympathetic one, but sometimes you wind up in SCOTUS with the case you've got, not the one you want.