Study to Expose Illegal Online Gun Sales Backfires

By Dave Dolbee published on in General, News

Here is a headline you won’t see in the mainstreet media, “Democrat-backed Study Meant to Expose Illicit Online Gun Sales Goes Bust!

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., was joined by Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. and Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, to commission a Government Accountability Office report to look into how online private dealers might be selling guns to people not allowed to have them. The problem was, quite frankly, you—the honest and responsible gun owning public! The GAO proved what we already know, by definition, law-abiding gun owners are just that—law abiding.

Rep. Elijah Cummings

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., led the charge for GAO to commission the report.

The commissioners of the GAO Report were reportedly basing their support on a 2016 report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which claimed that “anonymity of the internet makes it an ideal means for prohibited individuals to obtain illegal firearms.”

“Congressional requesters asked that GAO access the extent to which ATF is enforcing existing laws and investigate whether online private sellers sell firearms to people who are not allowed or eligible to possess a firearm,” the GAO report said.

The investigation spanned about 2.5 years where agents tried to buy firearms illegally on the “Surface Web”, social media sites and even the “Dark Web.” Agents, at times, portrayed themselves as being prohibited from legally owning a weapon or attempted private sales across states lines. Dozens of attempts outside of the dark web resulted in exactly ZERO illegal sales!

“Private sellers on Surface Web gun forums and in classified ads were unwilling to sell a firearm to our agents that self-identified as being prohibited from possessing a firearm,” the GAO reported, noting that in their “72 attempts … 56 sellers refused to complete a transaction once we revealed that either the shipping address was across state lines or that we were prohibited by law from owning firearms.” In the other cases, the investigators’ website was frozen or they encountered suspected scammers.

The Dark Web is more nefarious but still yielded little in the way of illegal sales. On the Dark Web, agents were able to illegally purchase two firearms. The serial numbers were obliterated on both guns and they were shipped across state lines. I guess bad people really don’t follow the law. On these dark web purchases, the agents “did not disclose any information indicating they were prohibited from possessing a firearm.” However, anyone selling firearms on the Dark Web with obliterated serial numbers would not have likely cared.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren

Sen. Elizabeth Warren joined with Sen. Brian Schultz, D-Hawaii, and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., to commission the GAO report.

Surprisingly, the stunning failure to get law-abiding gun owners to consent to illegal sales caused the GAO to state, “It is not making recommendations in this report.”

News agencies have reached out to the sponsors of the reports. However, all have declined to comment at this time. On the other hand, the National Rifle Association had a bit to say about the report and noted that online sales are in fact regulated, calling the study an “embarrassment” for the gun control lobby.

“GAO’s findings showed nothing so much as that private sellers advertising online are knowledgeable about the law, conscientious, and self-policing,” The National Rifle Association said, adding that online gun sales are “subject to the same federal and state laws that apply to any other commercial or private gun sales.”

The NRA described the study as an attempt to model the findings of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 2015 report, titled “Point, Click, Fire: An investigation of illegal online gun sales” which reportedly found that 62 percent of private sellers were willing to proceed with a sale, even if the prospective purchaser could not pass a background check.

Am I the only one who finds it strange that an anti-gun report commissioned by Michael Bloomberg said 62% of private sellers were willing to proceed with a sale when the ATF could not find even one… Share your answer in the comment section.

SLRule

Growing up in Pennsylvania’s game-rich Allegany region, Dave Dolbee was introduced to whitetail hunting at a young age. At age 19 he bought his first bow while serving in the U.S. Navy, and began bowhunting after returning from Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Dave was a sponsored Pro Staff Shooter for several top archery companies during the 1990s and an Olympic hopeful holding up to 16 archery records at one point. During Dave’s writing career, he has written for several smaller publications as well as many major content providers such as Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times, Outdoor Life, Petersen’s Hunting, Rifle Shooter, Petersen’s Bowhunting, Bowhunter, Game & Fish magazines, Handguns, F.O.P Fraternal Order of Police, Archery Business, SHOT Business, OutdoorRoadmap.com, TheGearExpert.com and others. Dave is currently a staff writer for Cheaper Than Dirt!

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Comments (49)

  • lee

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    Gee , law abiding gun 🔫 owners are, well, law abiding! Imagine that.

    Reply

    • lynn Mcbee

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      I purchased a firearm online out of Las Vegas when it got to Tn. a mandatory background check for the gun and me, it came back possible stolen hold for police. The police came and confiscated it and left a receipt which was faxed to the dealer!i must say the second gun was here in just a few days, as opposed to the first one, but it wasn’t stolen, I think they thought the gun was going to a ffl dealer not a shop owner who didn’t have to run it unless they sold it, makes a person wonder ?

      Reply

    • T.R. Barrett

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      I’m a retired Police Officer from a suburb that borders the South end of the city that’s currently receiving much notoriety over it’s outrageous murder rate.
      Virtually every gun used in those murders was either stolen, or purchased legally by a gang member who just happened to have a “clean” record. (this applies to where I’d worked as well) There are gang members that have become members of the Police Department of that certain city, and I’ve personally been involved in an arrest of a gang member that had committed and exceptionally brutal robbery, where a tire iron was used. (can those be regulated?) This person, just happened to be a guard at Statesville, the Prison in Joliet, IL.
      The problem that the politicians will never admit to, is that these gang members are the offspring of other gang members, who were offspring of other gang members etc.. It’s a never ending cycle that is nearly impossible to break.
      In closing, urban politicians will continue pointing fingers everywhere but at the real issue, and these murder rates will continue to be used as a rallying cry for the anti-gun lobby, who generally have no idea of what life in a city of that type is actually like. I’d like to see Pelosi spend 1 month living, without her taxpayer funded guards, in the south side of the city I’ve been talking about.
      But then, politicians are never wrong. (just crooked)

      Reply

  • Spencer

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    In the past 6 years I’ve purchased 2 firearms from a dealer who operates a dual business from his machine shop. He absolutely insists I have a background check every time & it costs me $25.00 each time & he makes me fill out the proper forms & sign them each time. I also have to pay sales tax since he is a registered business. I’m fortunate I’ve known him for over 40 years & he gives me a discount, but he’s very strict about following state & federal laws. I had an FFL license myself years ago & understand about how harsh the punishment can be for a dealer who violates these laws. ATFD agents have the right to knock on your door 24/7 and inspect your books & inventory to see if there is anything illegal on your premises.

    Reply

  • Jim in Conroe

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    I don’t want to be a wet blanket, but when “Private sellers on Surface Web gun forums and in classified ads were unwilling to sell a firearm to our agents that self-identified as being prohibited from possessing a firearm, . . . ” you haven’t set a very high hurdle for getting the expected (or unexpected, depending on your point of view) results.

    Reply

    • Tlaw193

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      I think you’re missing the point. The feds didn’t contact sellers and say “Hi, I’m not legally able to own a firearm”. They said “Hi, I live in another state. If I meet you somewhere can I buy your gun?” And the study showed sellers knew this was illegal and refused to do so, disproving the Left’s assertion that the average Joe will break the law to make a sale. I’ve sold many firearms online and have encountered potential buyers who wanted to circumvent the law and I’ve refused each and every time.

      Reply

    • 70'sOps

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      Well said and TRUE. It would skew the results. I do believe most people would rather avoid any future issues, by just selling to someone else. There is no shortage of customers. I also believe, that most private, single gun sales are made without the question being asked. Most legit people can sniff out a potential “perp”, and simply not sell to that particular person.

      Reply

  • LEVELLER

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    I’m sort of curious on Date and Place? Because the “Only” 2-1/2 year Operation I can find took place from 2011 to 2013. And was Locally Dubbed as “Operation Smokin’ Piston” ,,,

    Reply

  • Robert Ewers

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    I do not see “Sporting” in the Constitution or the any amendment. I do see that a “Militia” is call out in federal and state documents many times. They normally require arms suitable for military use, not “Sporting Use”.
    Stop instilling personal views into our legal regulations.

    Reply

    • Alan B.

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      So you only read the words that suit you? What part of “the Right of the People to Keep & Bear arms shall not be infringed is confusing you? It seems that by reminding us all that a well regulated Militia depends on an armed populace instead of a military Machine, you have been Foisted on a petard of your own construction. Maybe you are so addled that you actually believe your “Legal Regulations” were established without the benefit of anyone’s personal views. Are all Liberals as bereft of sense or comprehension as you clearly are? Did you know we have automatic weapons in 2018? Militias had Flintlocks and cannon… do you know the difference? Here’s 1 more news flash, Comment sections are provided for the airing of Peoples personal views/opinions and often highlight intelligent Folks attempting to help fellow citizens who have ingested the toxic, Liberal/socialist, kool-aide commie punch simply to detox and rejoin their fellow Americans at the Range for a re-introduction into Keep & Bear101. What we like to call Bulls Eye Bingo… Range is Hot!

      Reply

    • Mike Holdcraft, Colonel, USAF

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      You are correct, “Sporting” is not in the Constitution, but as you said “Militia” is and Militia at the time the Constitution was written were private citizens bearing their own personal firearms. The army back then used the same weapons. Weapons issued today to our Guard, Reserve, or Active duty military today are not the same. So please, take your own advice. For your information the semi-automatic rifles hunters have today, like the AR-15 or AR-10, have never been issued to the Military. They may look like a military weapon, but they don’t have the options to fire automatically – they are not assault weapons. The AR-15 is a “sporting weapon” used for hunting and/or target shooting. Just like any other weapon, they can be used for illegal purposes, but so can automobiles. Do we ban automobiles from sale to ordinary law abiding citizens because they are also used by criminals?

      Reply

  • H

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    Here we find Congresscritters who themselves find it difficult to follow the laws of this country trying to illicit illegal activities thwarted in their efforts to “encourage” illegal activities themsleves.
    How ironic.
    But when their little escapade fails, find themselves mute in discussing their failure in any fashion. I’m not the LEAST bit surprised.
    If ONLY those vermin would be so concerned about THEIR peers and self-policing as Honest gun owners, dealers and individuals were/are, MAYBE they could actually get some work done that BENEFITS the country as a whole?
    INCONCEIVABLE!
    And laughable, if it weren’t so damned tragic, that is.
    So how much money, time and effort was wasted in this GAO sting operation? Money that could surely have been better used on other, worthwhile, projects?
    I say let’s have a GAO investigation about the nitwits who instigated this probe and see just how dirty THEY are in their OWN houses!

    Reply

  • 70's Ops

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    Don’t ya just love when a witch hunt goes wrong. Perhaps the GAO should investigate themselves and their spending habits. Oh wait….theyre on OUR side. Yeah….right.

    Reply

  • 70's Ops

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    Typical. Sad, but typical. And I guess we all paid for this amazing information. Ya know, I wish something else would happen to pull the NATIONS focus off guns. Perhaps the frivolous spending practices of our government. Hmmmmmm.

    Reply

  • trebor

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    “Congressional requesters asked that GAO access the extent to which ATF is enforcing existing laws and investigate whether online private sellers sell firearms to people who are not allowed or eligible to possess a firearm,” the GAO report said.

    Sounds to me like a rational attempt to verify what the ATF reported. This is what GAO does. And really, how is that different then State Police using underage kids to see if they can illegally purchase tobacco products in contravention of state law from convenience stores?

    Reply

    • Rick in Dallas

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      I completely agree. And as stated by Jim in Conroe above, they did not set a very high hurdle in their attempts.

      Reply

    • 70's Ops

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      Well Trebor, I’d like to see the cost analysis of both. I am sure however, there is a considerable difference. Shouldn’t the research method of the ATF been questioned first. Their sources etc. Might have saved the witch hunt altogether.
      Now to the contravention part. We ALL go through our lives walking the razors edge. Going 71 mph in a 65 zone, giving our minor child a tiny sip of champagne at new years. The list is endless and most of us are violators at some point. So, is it the spirit of the law we should be enforcing…..or the letter of the law. If you look hard enough, you’ll find many “laws” in direct conflict with our constitution. Reinterpreting what was written and hiding it in “legalese”. That’s where WE THE PEOPLE should draw the line. Before they narrow our vision so far we can’t see what we’ve lost.
      We “police” ourselves. At least we did, but that seems to be being suppressed as well.

      Reply

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