Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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December 5, 2013

W.Va. files brief regarding firearm sales

CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced on Wednesday that the Mountain State has joined 26 other states and one territory in filing an amicus brief (friend of the court brief) with the U.S. Supreme Court of Appeals in what Morrisey claimed in a press release is an attempt by the federal government to prosecute legal gun owners for selling a gun to another person who can legally own a gun.

Morrisey was quoted in the press release as stating that West Virginia and the other states and the territory that joined West Virginia in the amicus brief believe that the U.S. Department of Justice is trying “to unilaterally create a federal restriction on firearm sales between law-abiding citizens. We believe that every legal gun owner in this state and nation should be interested in the outcome of this case.”

The case in point is the appeal filed by Bruce Abramski, a former Roanoke, Va., police officer who purchased a handgun from a Collinsville, Va., gun dealer, and later sold it to one of his relatives who lives in Pennsylvania. Abramski was convicted as a “straw purchaser” of the handgun, according to a spokesperson for the state attorney’s office, and convicted of that charge. The Associated Press reported on Wednesday that the U.S. Supreme Court agreed in October to hear Abramski’s appeal of his 2011 conviction in early 2014.

“The case is important to West Virginia citizens who wish to practice their Second Amendment rights and sell firearms to other legal West Virginia gun owners,” Morrisey was quoted in the press release as stating. “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.

“The 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,” according to the press release. According to information provided in the press release, Abramski used his law enforcement discount to purchase the firearm for his elderly uncle. Abramski was cleared to make the purchase following his background check, and his uncle could legally own a firearm in Pennsylvania, but federal prosecutors brought charges against Abramski, alleging that he made false statements on the gun purchase forms. In January, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld Abramski’s 2011 conviction in the District Court. The U.S. Supreme Court scheduled oral arguments in the appeal for Jan. 22, 2014, with a decision expected by the end of the high court’s session in June 2014.

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