CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia and 25 other states and a territory are joining together to fight an attempt by the federal government to prosecute the sale of guns between legal gun owners.

State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced Wednesday the group has filed an amicus, or friend of the court, brief with the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the matter.

“Our Office is proud to lead a bipartisan group of 27 states and territories in this brief to oppose the U.S. Department of Justice’s attempt to unilaterally create a federal restriction on firearm sales between law-abiding citizens,” said Morrisey in a release.

In the case, Abramski v. United States of America, the federal government is challenging the legality of citizens legally buying a firearm from a licensed dealer with the intention of then selling that gun to another private citizen who also may legally own and purchase firearms.

The government claims that the citizen who buys and then sells the gun is acting as a “straw purchaser,” which they claim is illegal under several federal statutes.

The states, however, argue that there is currently no federal law that prohibits such a transaction between two legal gun owners.

“The State of West Virginia does not discourage private gun sales, but the Department of Justice wants to ensnare innocent West Virginian gun owners in a web of criminal laws if they try to sell their guns,” Morrisey said in the release.

At most, the federal laws currently in the books prohibit private citizens from selling guns to people who are prohibited from owning firearms, such as minors, convicted felons, or people who have been diagnosed as having mental illnesses.

Morrisey mentions that it is up to the states and their citizens to decide whether to implement additional regulations on private gun sales.

“This federal overreach is a blatant attempt to overstep state regulations and Congress in order to steer more gun sales to federally licensed dealers, who then make federal records of every transaction,” stated Morrisey.

The states’ amicus brief is in support of a former Roanoke, Va., police officer, Bruce Abramski, who purchased a gun in 2009 using a law enforcement discount and sold it to his elderly uncle, who lived in Pennsylvania. Abramski and his uncle were legally allowed to own firearms and the transaction was made
in accordance with Pennsylvania gun laws.

The federal government , however, prosecuted Abramski
on the grounds that he made false statements on the gun purchase form. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld the conviction this past January.

“While no one wants guns to end up in the hands of a potential or real criminal, the administration’s interpretation oversteps the law and could make criminals out of innocent citizens,” Morrisey said.

Oral arguments are scheduled for Jan. 22, 2014, with a decision to come by the end of the court’s session in June.

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  • Gray Threadgill

    I believe that the laws should stay simple and be left alone. It is crazy to think that if i was a police officer and i wanted to buy a gun at a cheaper price and sell it to a friend or family member that that is frowned upon and i could face jail time or a fine.... so stupid

    • Sam Curry

      I agree with you, because I don't think that it should be illegal to buy a gun then sell it to a friend or family member, but I do understand where it would cause an argument if somebody buys a gun with intentions of selling it to somebody they don't know right after they buy it... Either way, I think it should be left alone.

    • Emily Gray


    • Ryan Gunter

      I agree with you but he isn't being prosecuted for the fact that he sold a gun to somebody else. He is getting prosecuted for the fact that he falsified a document that is required for the transaction to be legal.

  • Gilbert Gnarley

    So Abramski knowingly made a false statement on the purchase form?

    The amicus brief sounds like reelection material to me.

    As a responsible gun owner I've got to agree that Abramski broke the law that as a police officer he is sworn to uphold.

    And we are a nation of laws, not of men or organizations or agendas--left or right.

    But then that's just my opinion.

    • The bookman

      All I would say is that not everyone is an activist...when given the choice, Abramski should have questioned the legality of the form and gone through this process of shedding light on the inconsistency in the purchase form and the law...he thought no one would notice that he sold it to his uncle, which in and of itself was a legal transaction..he was charged for falsifying a federal document, not selling the gun the law he broke was providing a false answer to a question that by law should not be on the a responsible gun owner, do you really want the ATF acting beyond the scope of the law?

  • David

    If the law needs changed, change the law. This dude broke the law, and admitted it.
    Regarding the pandering fool, Morrisey, supporting the 2nd amendment while simultaneously ignoring the 14th, he's beneath my contempt.

    • The bookman

      That's just it, David!!! The ATF form is inconsistent with the law in that although it is perfectly legal to do what Abramski did by selling the gun to his uncle, the ATF form in its current state prohibits it without any supporting legal authority...over reach by the ATF in enforcing policy beyond the scope and intent of the's not a 2nd amendment's a federal agency issue where they enact policies beyond the parameters of the laws passed by congress, and then enforce that policy as law, thereby circumventing our legislative process...Abramski certainly made the wrong choice by checking the box and providing misleading information on the form, but if that section proves to be an infringement on his right to sell the gun to his uncle, which it clearly is IMHO, then SCOTUS will have no choice but to find in his favor...many believe that this case will then open the door to more actions of this kind against other Federal agencies, the EPA being the first one to come to I know you do not like our AG....but don't let your dislike of him or his party cloud the issue...can you not see the clarity of Abramski's argument?

  • Gilbert Gnarley

    I agree Independent View that I could be wrong.

    Nonetheless, I would still like to know what Mr. Abramski did on the form that constitutes misleading or false information. In that way those of us who fill out the forms can be certain that we are completing them correctly.

    You are also correct in that I am not familiar with firearms law (no more or less than your average purchaser) etc., but obviously this case concerns more than firearms law and is not simply a case of following what the law says. Otherwise the SCOTUS would not have decided to hear the case and render a decision. There clearly is a point of law that requires interpretation, otherwise the justices would not have taken on this particular case.

    It was not my intention to touch a nerve. As a gun owner, I merely made a few observations and asked questions.

    But clearly asking questions touches a nerve.

  • Stephen R.

    So an officer used his discount instead of his uncle paying fair market value? Integrity issue stuff but not a big deal in my book. (IMO Officers should stay above questionable behavior but he was probably trying to help out his uncle)

    I don't think we should waste WV time on it since it didn't happen here and the court will decide without WV getting involved.

    Morrisey is just pandering to the gun people and from the looks of the comments, they are falling for it.

    I can't stand politicians.

    • The bookman

      That would be Morrisey and 26 other AG's from across the country and party affiliation...So is the purpose of the AG's office in your opinion to not protect our Constitutional rights and privileges? It doesn't appear that he is alone in his belief that this is an over reach by the Feds...

  • Mark

    Why are we spending WV taxpayer dollars for a case not in WV? Let the courts decide because they will REGARDLESS of WV getting involved. Stop wasting our tax dollars for NO REASON.

    • wvrefugee

      It's the Republican way!

  • Independent View

    Addendum to previous post: Why not release ALL of the facts and evidence surrounding ATF's Fast & Furious program and prosecute those, even agents, who violated any federal or state laws before filing these frivilous charges against former police officer. Mr. Abramski?
    Fast & Furious and this case both smell!

    • Jason412

      http: / /

      I added spaces in the http so my post didnt get rejected.

      The info about fast & furious on public intelligence is a pretty good read for anyone interested in it. The e-mails between a staff member of the White House and the ATF agent in charge of Fast & Furious is especially interesting(if its not fake, I dont think it is but obviously I dont know the credibility of the site) It has a few maps of gun trafficking routes and some other interesting things, but it's buried in casual chit chat.

      Its just a peek into a horrible blemish on the crazy bullcrap the feds think is a good idea, we'll never be told the real truth.

  • Independent View

    @Gilbert Gnarley: Obviously, you missed the point and/or the facts of this situation. First, your question: "...I would be interested in knowing what false information Abramski is alleged to have made on the purchase form. If you understood ATF regulations, the buyer is "alleged" to have been a straw party purchaser, in other words, his intention was to purchase the firearm for his uncle and not himself. Secondly, you seem unfamilar with federal firearms laws when you state as factural and overriding law: "The case clearly has this weak spot: the sale involves state boundaries and the federal government can regulate goods under the Interstate Commerce Clause, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3." Wrong! Federal firearms laws ALLOW residents to legally purchase shotguns & rifles in contiguous states and legally transfer them. So, your theory does hold water. Also, federal firearms laws DO PERMIT transferring firearms between relatives without going through a licensed dealer.Finally, the federal gov't through the ATF should focus their intention on getting the armed thugs off the street, thus making a real contibution to reducing the murder rate in this country rather than attempting to ensnare law abiding citizens in Micky Mouse cases that tie up years of courts' time and resources as it worms it way to SCOUS. Whreas, when prosecutors are asked, "why wasn't that thug arrested?" The usual response is, "well, I did not feel that we could win a conviction in a lengthly and costly trial." But somehow it is acceptable to waste scant resources on a selective prosecution that the gov't has little if any hope of winning and this is correct behavior?

  • JamieNitro

    My first question would be, "why does someone that can legally buy and own a gun, need another person to buy it from a dealer in the first place." While I agree that this seems like the first step in the federal government attempting to take all private guns, I wonder if there isn't some merit behind the intent. The "gun dealer" has a responsibility to runt he background check on the "purchaser" of the gun. The individual will not have that responsibility and will just be taking the buyers word that they can legally buy and own the gun.

  • Gilbert Gnarley

    Tacky Morrisey Reelection Campaign Slogan #2:
    "Patrick Morrisey - Private Citizen Desnarer".

  • C. F. T.

    You the man Morrisey. This Country needs more elected officials who have your courage, conviction and backbone.

  • joey

    thank you Patrick for standing up for 2nd amendment. still proud of red,white,& blue.

    • Hillbilly

      Thank you Morissey, for doing your job. or anything, for that matter.. unlike your worthless predecessor. ..

  • wv4evah

    Correction needed: 8th graf. Should say "At most, Morrisey's office claims, the federal laws..."

    There's a dispute over the rules, and the way the article's written, you've taken sides.

  • Donald Hardman

    Dope and meth running wild in our State and the AG is more concern about the gun industry. Get a LIFE or should I say save some lives!

    • MCorp0317

      By challenging this unconstitutional grab by the Feds he will be saving lives! Maybe even yours. Without the guns how are you going to protect yourself or your family if one of those meth heads breaks into your home?

      • Gilbert Gnarley

        The case clearly has this weak spot: the sale involves state boundaries and the federal government can regulate goods under the Interstate Commerce Clause, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3.

        There's nothing unconstitutional or overreaching about that. It has been a federal power since the beginning of the Republic, though subjected to interpretation by the Supreme Court throughout our history.

        There are limits to gun ownership, whether we want to hear that or not.

        It will take the SCOTUS to determine what exactly constitutes "infringement" on Second Amendment, whether in this case or in the future. Law-abiding citizens (as distinguished from the "meth heads") need to be prepared to accept whatever determination the SCOTUS makes, agree or not.

        With barely one-half of the state filing amicus briefs, perhaps the AGs of those not filing have determined the case will fall under the Interstate Commerce authority of the Federal Government.

        I would be interested in knowing what false information Abramski is alleged to have made on the purchase form.

        I guess we will see come June when the ruling is issued.

        Just an opinion......

        • The bookman

          Abramski checked a box on the ATF form that the purchase was for himself, and not for resale...he was in fact purchasing the gun for his father to receive his law enforcement discount...the question before the SCOTUS involves the legality of the ATF form as the box he checked is not in compliance with the intent of the law passed by congress governing the ATF form's purpose...the importance here is the over reach of a federal agency not following the intent of laws duly passed by congress, but adding layers of regulation outside the boundaries of the law this case restricting the sale of a gun to someone who has a stated intent to sell the gun to someone else who may legally purchase it...not really a second amendment issue as much as a federal infringement issue that will have far reaching effects on other agencies in the event SCOTUS rules in Abramski's favor...prior court rulings favor Abramski...let's hope IMHO he is victorious!

          • Gilbert Gnarley

            Thanks for the information regarding the checked box.

            Sure will be interesting to see how this one goes.

          • The bookman

            Uncle..not father...recall not what it should be!

  • Martinsburg Resident

    Our Federal Government is out of freaking control!! Prosecution of a law abiding citizen who sold something legally that he legally obtained is an affront to every American citizen! Meanwhile the impostor in the White House continues his assault on our Constitution... When are ALL Americans going to wake up and demand our Great Country back? Gun Registration leads to Gun Confiscation which leads to Human Extermination! Before some fool calls me a "Red Neck Tea Baggin Extremist" they need to research history or simply ask a Jewish person familiar with Hitler's tactics. Ignore history and you are bound to repeat it!

    • Metzger

      I agree, this government is out of control

    • Jason

      The people will not wake up, they are either too concerned about getting their "fair share" handout from the government or they just think it will pass over with no real changes, until somebody comes knocking on their that point, it will be too late. Reality is, most people's days are spent working, making dinner, running the kids around, etc...there just isnt enough time in the day to follow many of these issues, so they count on their elected officials to speak for them and represent them...there is alot of people in government that want to keep you busy as can be so you cant see the wool pulled over your eyes slowly...just keep this in mind every election when you go to the polls...pick the issues that are most important to you..then vote accordingly...then hold that candidate accountable..if they dont do what they say..then vote them out next time.

    • wv4evah

      Ever try decaff?

    • The Tparty was right

      You are right AND the T party was right all along...