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Attorney General Marty Jackley

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South Dakota Joins Supreme Court Brief Supporting Law Abiding Citizens’ Right to Buy, Sell Firearms


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE :    Wednesday, December 11, 2013
CONTACT:  Sara Rabern (605) 773-3215   

South Dakota Joins Supreme Court Brief Supporting Law Abiding
Citizens’ Right to Buy, Sell Firearms

PIERRE, SD: Attorney General Marty Jackley today announced that South Dakota has joined with 26 other states in an amicus, or friend of the court, brief filed in the U.S. Supreme Court opposing the attempt by the federal government to expand federal law in the prosecution of legal gun owners selling firearms to another person who can legally own firearms.

“South Dakota currently allows private gun sales between its law abiding citizens, and this brief opposes the federal government’s expansion of federal law to prevent these sales and to prosecute lawful gun owners,” said Jackley. “Law abiding citizens have a fundamental right to bear arms under the Second Amendment and the outcome of this case is crucial to every legal gun owner in South Dakota.”

The brief was filed in Abramski v. United States of America. That case challenges whether federal law prohibits citizens from legally buying a firearm from a licensed dealer with the intention of then selling that gun to another private citizen who also is legally allowed to purchase and own firearms. The Department of Justice argues 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 Congress has never passed a federal law that prohibits such purchases. At most, the laws relied on by the United States 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.

 The States’ amicus brief is in support of a former Roanoke, Va., police officer, Bruce Abramski, who purchased a gun in 2009 and sold it to his elderly uncle, who lived in Pennsylvania.  Both Abramski and his uncle could legally own firearms and made the transaction in accordance with Pennsylvania gun laws. However, federal authorities prosecuted Abramski on the grounds that he made false statements on the gun purchase form.

In January 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld Abramski’s conviction, saying that such “straw purchases” are illegal under federal law. In October, the Supreme Court agreed to review the conviction.

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