OMG! The Internet! Guns! Guns for Sale on the Internet!

Today is so yesterday. While the show remains a cash cow, Today’s production team can’t show up at J-school lecture halls without the cloying smell of 80’s happy talk overpowering their intellectual pretensions. And so Today is dipping its collective toe into . . . wait for it . . . investigative journalism. What better way to kick off their new venture than a cookie-cutter piece of EAT-G (Easy Access to Guns)? Did you know you can buy guns over the Internet without an FFL and FBI background check? Only one problem . . .

YOU CAN’T. But that kind of fact checking seems to be beyond the ken of Jeff Rossen and NBC’s “national investigative unit.”

Hey guys, the Internet is only the means by which buyers and sellers find each other. It’s the modern-day equivalent of what used to be called “newspapers.” You know; a printed publication that ran “classified ads.” I hear they used to be all the rage.

Apparently, this newfangled Internet’s something different: a cesspit of illegal gun sales. Not just guns. Semi-automatic guns. Assault rifles. Fifty caliber sniper rifles that can shoot five miles. Five miles! And bring down a helicopter! As Rossen breathlessly pointed out, the fiddy’s a favorite of Mexican drug lords.

OK, but—you can’t buy a gun off the Internet from a distributor or manufacturer without said firearm going through a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL). Private sales between individuals are perfectly legal—as long as the buyer and seller are both residents of the same state (where the deal goes down). That’s true no matter how the buyer and seller find each other.

Equally, selling a firearm to a felon is perfectly illegal, no matter how that deal goes down. So how does Joe Blow know the difference between friend and felon? He doesn’t. Not really. (Clever criminals!) The seller can be held accountable for selling a firearm to a felon, but the government has to prove the private seller’s foreknowledge in a court of law.

OMG! How do you live with that? If you’re a liberal, you don’t. Actually, you do. Because you have to. Because America’s founding fathers didn’t want the government poking its nose into private transactions between citizens until and unless they can prove that said transaction is illegal—after the fact.

Innocent until proven guilty. That kind of thing.

Does this Internet gun sales “loophole” enable gun-seeking bad guys? Maybe. But forcing private sellers to involve the feds in a supposedly free market also enables criminals. Ones that operate within the law (hint: they are the law). Go figure. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to change the channel. [h/t to TTAG’s AI for the link]