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]

66 Responses to OMG! The Internet! Guns! Guns for Sale on the Internet!

  1. avatarTelomere says:

    Saw this first thing this morning.
    Got my brain burning before I ate my Cheerios!!!
    I was interested in buying guns on the internet, no questions asked. I hate paying FFL fees. Was I disappointed!!
    You have to admit though the couple of guys they hand-picked responses from were pretty douchey. One of the “buyers” joked he couldn’t pass a background check, the seller laughs that he shouldn’t sell to him, does anyway and then said it was because in this economy he need the money.
    From the look of the guns they were selling I am going to guess they could have sold to somebody that wasn’t obviously trying to skirt the laws.
    I know plenty of guys, myself included, who will only sell to someone with a CWP or something similar. I know it isn’t a guarantee, but at least that way you can feel a little safer about the transaction.

    • avatarBruce W. Krafft says:

      “One of the ‘buyers’ joked he couldn’t pass a background check, the seller laughs that he shouldn’t sell to him, does anyway and then said it was because in this economy he need the money.”

      I’ve seen this sort of “sting” before, but if I hadn’t and was selling a gun and had the ‘buyer’ tell me he couldn’t pass a NICS check the way their ‘buyer’ did I would assume he was joking. I mean he laughed when he said it, his demeanor was such that very few people would have taken him seriously. And this is done on purpose, so that the seller thinks the buyer’s making a stupid joke, but the “investigators” can do a gotcha.

      These sorts of things are utter horse hockey. “How do you know he’s not a criminal?” asks the “reporter” and most people can’t answer because they don’t consciously think about all the factors that they are adding up.
      1) The car the buyer is driving
      2) the way he’s dressed
      3) the manner in which he speaks
      3a) his diction
      3b) his word choice
      3c) looking you in the eye
      4) the fact that his “wife” is with him
      5) the fact that his whole manner is relaxed and open

      All of these things add up and very few people really notice them, they just think “good guy”, or “creep” or what have you. I had to go through the tape several times in order to pick out the subliminals that leg me to believe he wasn’t a criminal. Am I saying that I (or anyone) can pick out BGs 100%? Hell no, but I’d go with 85 – 90%.

  2. avatarAharon says:

    Until I start reading media story after story reporting that X-gun used in a crime was sold and bought between private parties skipping the business-consumer background check process I’m not going to consider this a problem worthy of needing to change. Personally, I do choose to sell my guns to a dealer first so that a paper trail is established and the dealer in turn will put the next buyer through a criminal background check prior to selling.

  3. avatarmike says:

    What exactly is a “police grade pistol?”… and HOLLOW POINT BULLETS! That sure does sound scary. Also, who gives a shit if a kid sees or handles a gun?

    Good non bias reporting as well.

    Pussification of America 98% complete.

  4. avatarBLAMMO says:

    I hear there’s porn on the internet too.

  5. avatarKYgunner says:

    I sold a handgun on Wednesday FTF. I met with the guy outside a gunshop where I knew that the skiddish sheeple wouldn’t call the cops and faint at the mere sight of a gun. I parked under a security camera. Did the deal outside the car in clear view of said camera, had him show me his DL, took down his info (ALL his info on the DL), filled out and signed a bill of sale for each of our records, and went about my merry way.
    I also noted the make and model of his car as he drove away and a short physical description and documented the time and place of transaction to the minute. Ya know, just to CMA. Overall I’m happy with the way it went and feel confident I got all my bases covered to stay away from any legal backlash.

  6. avatarJR says:

    But. But. They used the ATF as a source. That means they are right. Right?

    • avatarAharon says:

      Actually the ATF is far more Left than right.

    • avatarRon says:

      I’m almost positive this is sarcasm. Since I’ve been reading TTAG I’m much better at recognizing it.
      Unfortunately the answere is still yes.
      Not to you or I, but to a great many fence sitters ” confirmation” by a former ATF supervisor gives this BS report credibility.

  7. avatarsdog says:

    this is such a silly story, bunch of garbage.

  8. avatarSilver says:

    I must say, I don’t think Gunbroker will ever indirectly kill as many people as the government has through such things as Fast and Furious.

  9. avatarAPBTFan says:

    I was gonna try and write something comprehensive but there were so many misleading statements in that article I don’t even know where to begin. Once again my home town of Phoenix is the target for these shithead “journalists”. As for backpage, I troll it every day. Almost every fella posting an ad requires a valid driver’s license or CCW card so their assertion that there’s some sort of Nigerian arms bazaar going on here is patently false. It’s probably no coincidence they didn’t mention how many ads they went through to get the eight guns they did.

    Now, back to my beer…..

  10. avatarBruce W. Krafft says:

    Oh yeah, almost forgot: You can contact the Rossen Report Team here. Perhaps a few thousand people could suggest an inquiry into Fast & Furious?

  11. avatarJavier says:

    MSNBC (REALLY?) Well in Joisy you can’t legally do it. But if you live in certain towns and know a guy maybe they know somebody who could, you know. Fugetabout it. Or be a politician.

  12. avatarPT says:

    Maybe someone should tell them about the NFA classifieds on the internet. They’d have a total meltdown.

  13. avatarIndyRoadie says:

    So, if the Today Show had someone else buying guns for them, would that make it a “straw purchase”?

  14. avatarJBS says:

    Unfortunately, gotcha journalism is rampant. Employees need to be aware of their situation, just as though they were walking down a dark alley. If things don’t look right, have a plan for the worst possible outcome.

    The key is not to discuss things on the reporter’s terms. Begin by treating them as a customer. “I’ll be with you as soon as I’m done with this customer (or this phone call).” “Feel free to browse around.” “If you are not here to buy or browse, why are you here?”

    Once its clear that the reporter is hostile, treat them to profanity and disrespect at every opportunity. This really complicates the video tape editing. Do not try to explain things to them. They are hopeless. E.g., “Are you too f…ing stupid to get an honest Job?

    If one happens to be a bystander, one should jump in loudly with profanity and derision. E.g., “Why are you intruding on this man’s business? Have you no manners? Does your mother know how you behave? Were you raised by wolves?” “You want me to be quiet? Have you ever heard of freedom of speech you f…ing moron?”

    Seize the initiative!

  15. avatarMac says:

    This article is interesting and well written, except for one serious error. You state in the 5th paragraph that “private sales between individuals are perfectly legal”. This is true ONLY IF they’re residents of the same state; your mis-statement would seem to lend credence to the falacious idea that “unlicensed dealers” are saturating the country with “untraceable guns” from coast-to-coast. It would pay to be a bit more careful about details when writing, so as to avoid misleading folks who don’t know any better, or aiding those who do, but go on lying anyway.

  16. avatarRon says:

    The TODAY report must not be taken lightly.
    We can point to the foolishness and bias of this report among ourselves.
    Being pro gun and 2A activist we see the foolishness.

    The problem is if I were completely neutral on the subject of 2A rights and saw this report I would at least start to lean toward gun control, if not jump on the bandwagon out right.

    Do you worry that these guns could be used to commit crimes ?
    I thought about it but I need the money.
    No it never occurred to me.
    I thought about it but it doesn’t bother me.
    I don’t have any control over what happens after the sell.

    Why would a neutral person not start to think that it might be a good idea to plug that “loophole” after seeing this? Especially if it will keep someone who openly admits he is not qualified to buy a gun at a gun store, from getting one from a person who openly admits he doesn’t give a damm if you can qualify or not (or what you plan to do with the gun), as long as you can pay for it.
    Even neutrals who purchase a gun(s) for home defense or personal protection through a FFL dealer may see this report as a means for BGs to get guns.

    These types of reports are the only reports many / most fence sitters ever see.

    DGU’s are rarely reported unless they are local and even local DGU’s are of only moderate interest to neutrals.
    I have never had a neutral friend ask if I heard about ( insert name) who was involved in a DGU.
    On the other hand there has never been a sensationalized shooting anywhere in the country that I have not been informed of multiple times.

    Unless you actively search out gun related media, you never hear about the positive side of the shooting sports. Or see an ad promoting personal protection of any type, not just guns.

    I have never been asked why the government wants this or that gun law or restriction.
    I have been asked multiple times why the NRA would want to oppose a ban on “assault” guns or HC mags. Or background checks. Or waiting periods. Or registration. By persons who truly don’t understand. Who truly and without malice believe each of these ideas to be logical, sensible and beneficial to society.

    The point is most people are neither pro nor anti. Their opinions are formed day to day. Even many who have decided to buy guns for defense have done so reluctantly and/or out of fear and are not truly pro gun activist. They have no love for guns and their knowledge of guns is extremely limited. Nor or they inform or even concerned about 2A issues. They are frightened fence sitters. They bought their gun and ammo per dealer recommendation and if they got any training it was their CHL class.
    They load up and convince themselves they have done what they can to protect themselves. If they give any further thought to guns it is the rare trip to the range. Gun issues are never on the minds of these people. Until they see something like this.

    I am certain none of the fence sitters who saw the TODAY report saw any rebuttal, or any pro gun media, or any comments on TTAG.
    This is why the TODAY report cannot be taken lightly. Both pro and antis need the fence sitters. But we are at a great disadvantage.
    They are bombarded with programming, ads, articles and even documentaries proclaiming guns to be evil.
    But to get our side of the story they have to search us out.
    As I feel certain most of us do,I never fail to work guns, shooting, self defense training, CHL into the conversation when the opportunity presents itself.
    But at the same time I must be cautious so as to not over do it. So as not to bore them to the point they are driven further away.

    The TODAY report must not be taken lightly because as we all know the 2A is not just about the right to keep and bear arms, it is about the unrestricted right to keep and bear arms.
    But to a great many people restricting the 2A seems to be logical, sensible and beneficial. People who are not gun grabbers. People who are just misinformed.
    By the TODAY report et al.

    • avatarTom says:

      Good post and I am concerned about the mainstream media spreading this crap and our side not being able to reply with a rebutal on a mass scale.

  17. avatarJohn says:

    This was a “promoted” tweet on Twitter yesterday.

    Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg)
    2/9/12 11:45 AM
    How many ppl must die before we refuse to let criminals buy guns online w/ no background check? maig.us/nbcrep (via @maigcoalition)

  18. avatarGS650G says:

    I think NBC is creating buzz wanting DHS to shut down the websites. On that they might succeed since DHS has shut down lots of websites for the thinnest of reasons, a DJ site was closed for a year without any evidence or charges ever being filed.
    As to the sleep at night comment, I just remember it’s not the gun that does the crime it’s the person and I resent the backtracking of responsibility away from those responsible. It’s why criminals are usually not named but the gun store is.

  19. avatarmofo says:

    Sorry for just dropping this in the comment section, but i couldnt find a ‘submit a link’ type page. Anyway, Reason.com has an article on all the 2ndA cases the SCOTUS declined to hear this year, worth a read:

    http://reason.com/blog/2012/02/09/the-second-amendment-cases-the-supreme-c

  20. avatarMauser says:

    Interesting piece of sensationalism. The story lost any credibility with this statement: ‘This man is about to sell us a tactical assault rifle, modified to use bullets for an AK-47.’ The man was selling an SKS, which happens to use the same 7.62x39mm cartridge as an AK-47. It certainly wasn’t modified to do so. The only modification the rifle seemed to have was the black plastic Tapco stock. It’s not even considered an ‘assault rifle’ in most states since it does not accept a detachable magazine.

    Could they have used the words ‘tactical’ and ‘assault rifle’ any more in their report? What a piece of garbage. It reminds me of the Glock plastic pistol paranoia of the ’80s.

    • avatarRon says:

      Frightening piece of sensationalism.
      Very well done.
      Lost credibilty multiple times.
      But how many who saw it realize that?

  21. avatarMauser says:

    Interesting piece of sensationalism. The story lost any credibility with this statement: ‘This man is about to sell us a tactical assault rifle, modified to use bullets for an AK-47.’ The man was selling an SKS, which happens to use the same 7.62x39mm cartridge as an AK-47. It certainly wasn’t modified to do so. The only modification the rifle seemed to have was the black plastic Tapco stock.

    Could they have used the words ‘tactical’ and ‘assault rifle’ any more in their report? What a piece of garbage. It reminds me of the Glock plastic pistol paranoia of the ’80s.

    • avatarJeff O. says:

      What not one of those deadly M16s that the US military uses modified to take AK ammo?

      Or one of those deadly Mini-14s, like the criminals used in that deadly 1980′s FBI shootout modified to use AK-47 ammo?

      • avatarkevbow says:

        the military isn’t going to modify any military rifle to use 7.62x39mm ammo. It is heavier, more expensive, and larger (less rounds per clip). Also just to point out…..the 7.62 x 39 ammo outdates the .223 (5.56 nato) round. If they wanted to build thier rifles to accept the 7.62 x 39 they would have built it that way to begin with.

        • avatarCarlosT says:

          Not that this is apropos to the article at all, but there have been attempts to do this over the years, but the aggressive taper of 7.62×39 doesn’t work at all well the AR/M16/M4 platform.

          The 300BLK (7.62×35), however, is basically a version of the AK round built to work in that platform, and has superior ballistics to the 7.62×39. Who knows whether it’ll be widely adopted in the military, but if that’s what you’re looking for, 300BLK is what you want.

        • avatarGabba says:

          ZOMG YOU SAID CLIP!!! GUN NUT CONNIPTION!!!

  22. avatarDyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    This is yet another display of the typical and deliberate ignorance of facts by over-educated, under-intelligent liberal arts majors who form the media. They have very little real-world experience in, well, anything.

    But boy oh boy, can they prattle on endlessly about it.

  23. avatarSteve says:

    Hmm. Well, criticizing the reporters for dropping buzz-words is kind of silly. You and I know full well that an SKS uses the same ammo as an AK without modification but that is sort of beside the point.

    The time when they told the seller that they couldnt pass the background check…that person should have ended the sale then and there.

    As I see it, if the Gov’mt wanted to decrease this kind of thing they should make the number for the FBI background check a Hotline and make it available to the public. Print that number on the side of all firearms packages…heck, put a sticker on all accessory packages too.

    Got a question about a person you are selling to? Ask for ID and call the FBI. If that person sticks around at all, you can bet they are on the Up and up.

    Combine that with a public awareness campaign so that people know that they can and should call if they have a question about a buyer.

    Honest folks would call and dishonest folks would not.

    • avatarPascal says:

      The Brady Bunch et al wants to stop private sales, this is propoganda for that end.

      Note, they did not show the sales where someone walked away from the sale.

      As far as the FBI check, some states already make it a PITA for firearm sales. Case in point, CT

      “A DPS-67-C and a DPS-3-C (4 copies) must be completed. The seller of the handgun must contact the Special Licensing and Firearms Unit at (860) 685-8400, or 1-(888) 335-8438 and obtain an authorization number for that sale. This number is to be added to both forms. The DPS-67-C is to be retained by the seller for 20 years. The seller should retain the original copy of the DPS-3 for their records, give one copy to the purchaser as a receipt, submit one copy to the local police authority where the purchaser resides and submit a final copy to the Commissioner of Public Safety. “

      • avatarMoonshine7102 says:

        Guess I’ll just cross Connecticut off my list of places I’m willing to live…

        • avatarkevbow says:

          Might aswell cross of California too….We are not any better here.

        • avatarMoonshine7102 says:

          Kalifornia was the first one to go, actually. Followed quickly by NY, IL, MA, NJ, MD… Funny thing, though; Wisconsin recently clawed its way back onto the list.

        • avatarCarlosT says:

          The three and a half years I lived in California were the worst of my life. And I wasn’t even into guns then. No amount of money could convince me to live there again.

  24. avatarSid says:

    My wife and I were browsing in a bookstore last week. We sent my 9 YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER to the counter to purchase a product commonly used to mask the scent of an ILLEGAL COLOMBIAN IMPORT. The worker did not even ask my daughter for ID. She just sold it to her.

    I like mine with cream and sugar.

  25. avatarMartin Albright says:

    Guns on the internets? Oh Noes!

    Hey, NBC, welcome to 1999. Say, have you heard about that “Y2K” thing?

  26. avatarJeff O. says:

    Oooh…Yellow Journalism at its finest.

    You’re better than that Today show.

  27. avatarChas says:

    Nothing but a blatant hit piece. What they FAIL to acknowledge time and time again is that the vast majority of private transactions are done legally and responsibly, and that if a criminal wants a weapon, he’s going to get one.

    NBC has formally announced to the world that it has NO INTENTION of reporting the truth.

  28. avatarOregonBuzz says:

    I buy/sell/trade guns privately here in Oregon. A lot of us do from one end of the state to the other. It’s pretty much a standardized procedure that when the transfer is made the participants exchange CHL info, or driver’s license info, and in many cases a bill of sale is written up so the seller has proof that he sold the gun on a certain date. It’s been going on for years and the crime rate continues to decline. We’ve just got to do something about that.

  29. avatarkevbow says:

    I have looking to buy a gun on the internet, and have yet (after about 4 months) even seen any offer to sell without a FFL Dealer. I understand that private dealers can sell without an FFL, but even that is limited. It sounds like a typical Liberal “Guns are bad” newspiece. Unfortunatly i think most people know very little about facts, and listen to thier newsource far too often.

  30. avatarRalph says:

    MA has a four sales a year rule for private parties. Disposing of more than four guns a year in private sales makes you a dealer, although there’s no limit on the number of private purchases. Every in-state transaction must be reported by the seller within seven days on a Form FA-10. For guns purchased from out of state, it’s the buyer’s responsibility to report the purchase on the FA-10.

    The information is scanned into the Firearms Record Bureau database so that the guns can be confiscated by the gun-grabbing bastards traced if they’re stolen or used in a crime.

  31. avatarstonedome says:

    “Fifty caliber sniper rifles that can shoot five miles. Five miles! And bring down a helicopter!” we’re going to need them if obama gets re-elected, first to eliminate the pinheads of the likes of the today show and then to shoot down the drones coming after us…

  32. avatarfunny says:

    This was hysterically funny. “Shopping mall parking lot!” “Seven-year-old son!”

    And whoever said Today is “better than that,” well, no. This piece makes that abundantly clear.

  33. avatarRed says:

    A friend of mine bought a glock from a guy off the street in Chicago while he lived there for protection. He payed less than a legal glock costs me in California. If they’re trying to drive up illegal fire arms sale prices though limited local sales they’re failing baddly.

  34. avatarGunTrash says:

    So, who watches television nowadays?

  35. avatarRick C says:

    “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.”

    You just gave them tomorrow’s story: “Holy crap! You can buy guns through newspapers without background checks!”

  36. avatarMultitude says:

    The Today show is to multimedia as Readers Digest is to literature, or Old Country Buffet to fine dining. Hard to imagine people still spent irretrievable moments of their life on such drivel.

    • avatarRon says:

      Are you kidding?
      People spend irretrievable hours of their lives on staged pretend “reality” shows and celebrity gossip.
      Why would they not spend moments on the “news”.

  37. avatarRich K says:

    They only scare old women and small children with this crap so why sweat it. Until and if the SCOTUS rules differently its still “open for business” in the gun world. Besides, this give all us folks more water cooler topics to discuss with local Morons at starbucks.

  38. avatarTom says:

    Indiana is pretty good on FTF transactions and actually has liberalized gun laws in the State. It seems for the most part we are doing OK. I think most people try to keep things legit. You will always have some bad apples.

  39. avatarJim Lee says:

    What a bunch of goobers. I wonder if any of these ‘investigative reporters’ actually know which end of a gun the bullet comes out of.

  40. avatarMaverick says:

    If there were any question about whether these people are anti-gun or just anti-private sales (which, of course, there isn’t anyway), it went away when they reported that they had these thousands of dollars worth of guns destroyed, rather than recoup some of their cost by selling them to a “legitimate” dealer. (“Legitimate” is in scare quotes, because they no doubt believe that no gun dealer is legitimate.)

  41. avatarAragorn says:

    I was surprised anyone still watches that antiquated show.

    I wonder how much that show was paid by the anti-gun crowd to create
    an obviously far fetched piece of media?

  42. avatarjustin says:

    The problem is that laws only keep honest people honest. I can tell you right now that I could go to any state I wanted and buy a gun even if I wasn’t a resident or was a felon. I am not a felon and I do obide by the law when I buy guns. i own several and they were all purchased with back round checks being done. but the fact is that the law can’t stop anyone from owning a gun if thats what they really want.

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