If you have a friend who collects stamps, you may buy a stamp for them for a special occasion. But if you have a friend who collects guns, you may not. The AFTE (formerly just the ATF – investigation of explosives was added to its mandate and its name some years back) promulgated regulations prohibiting this, even if the ultimate owner and the buyer are both authorized to buy the gun.
That regulation was recently upheld by the Supreme Court. A young man bought a gun for his uncle. He was intent on doing so and lied on the form that asked whether he was buying the gun for himself (in which case he could continue filling the form and buy the gun if he qualified) or for someone else (in which case the form had a big bold “STOP HERE” here instruction, as such a purchase would violate firearms regulation).
Upon his arrest, he challenged the ATFE’s regulation and lost. The Supreme Court narrowly found the prohibition so necessary to implement gun laws as to justify the inconvenience of banning guns as gifts for all intents and purposes.
One may debate that decision at length, and the Supreme Court did, majority and dissent both speaking forcefully. But behind academic deliberations, a simple truth emerges: the first line of defense against governmental prosecution is following the law. So when a form asks whether the gun is purchased for someone else, and tells you that doing so is prohibited, telling the truth beats trying to beat the system. While in some cases regulations underlying administrative requirements may crumble under judicial scrutiny, there are better ways to challenge it than being arrested.