Internet Loopholes Let Gun Buyers Get Online, Skip The Background Check
Guns are easy to obtain, but you don't need a bag of cash. Under current law, almost anyone can buy one with a few clicks of a mouse.
That stands in contrast to physical gun dealers, who are required to run a a criminal background check—intended to keep people believed to be dangerous from obtaining deadly weapons—on anyone purchasing a gun. Nearly 1.8 million people have been prevented from buying guns due to this procedure.
But a gaping hole in this law makes it virtually powerless. There is currently no law requiring that private gun sales include a similar check. As a result, millions of firearms are sold at gun shows or online by unlicensed sellers who have no obligation to investigate the background of the buyer. The same loophole makes it possible for 18- to 20-year-olds to purchase guns despite a federal requirement that they cannot be sold to anyone under the age of 21.
Think Progress and Mother Jones recently spotlighted Armslist.com—a site that, instead of selling guns directly, offers a way for private buyers and sellers to find each other, without the need for pesky background checks.
Armlist did not respond to a request for comment.
And the service is not the only one of its kind. A web search reveals dozens of other options for purchasing guns online, any of which can be used by people like James Holmes, the shooter in the Aurora, Colo. massacre, who assembled his arsenal and ammunition over the internet.
As online gun sales flourish, so will stories of the deaths they cause, as well as the need for safety regulation.
Kevin Jersey is a reporter for Campus Progress. Follow him on Twitter @wordsnotbullets.