Weapon intermediaries

Buying milk at the supermarket is not the same as buying a weapon legally and saying it is for our own use, when it really is for someone else. The difference is very clear for many people, but not for four U.S. Supreme Court justices.

Fortunately, common sense prevailed yesterday among the other five justices, who were able to see beyond the ideological blinders of the Second Amendment and its lax interpretation of the right to bear arms. These justices recognized the importance of a case that opened the door to gun trafficking.

In this case, an individual bought a pistol, declaring in federal documents—designed to know who buys the weapon—that it was for him, when it was for his uncle.

The majority of the justices supported the opinion of Justice Elena Kagan, that lying during a legal purchase of a firearm about who will be its owner undermines the intention of the law, to leave a trace so that the weapon’s destination is known.

On the other hand, Justice Antonin Scalia argued in his dissent the theory of the milk, in which in reality, it does not matter who buys it. This logic allows firearm purchases through intermediaries who lie about the destination of the weapons.

Both nephew and uncle in this case were eligible to buy weapons. However, in practice, it is impossible for the dealer to determine whether the recipient of the firearm is an innocent relative, a criminal or a Mexican drug trafficker.

What is astonishing about the decision of the four conservative justices is the disregard for federal laws that attempt to monitor—since they cannot control—the buying and selling of firearms, as well as an unspoken acceptance of gun trafficking that involves lying to the federal government.

It is hard to understand the historic-cultural roots that establish the right to bear weapons in this society, when murders and massacres are on the news daily.

What is even harder to comprehend is that four Supreme Court justices accept gun trafficking, challenging the integrity of a modest federal law. The good news is that they were not the majority, and that buying a semiautomatic rifle is still very different from buying a gallon of milk.