The Truth About Gun Sales on Reddit

San Antonio Gun Show, c Nick Leghorn

Mother Jones, Gawker and other sensationalist news sites are preparing to release articles beginning next Monday detailing the “assault weapons trafficking” that goes on through reddit.com. We know it’s coming — we’ve seen the emails, we’ve talked to the contacts that they’ve tried to meet with and we’ve seen the discussions — and this is being spearheaded by a gun control advocacy section of Reddit called /r/gunsarecool that dances with joy every time there’s a mass murder. Truth be told, Reddit’s gun sales sections are no different than any other website that lists firearms for sale on the net, but because Reddit is one of the most popular websites, the suggestion that a beloved site could be the source of “gun trafficking” might ruffle some feathers. Anyway, before the stories are even finished this is a good opportunity to get the truth about Reddit gun sales out there . . .

1. Background Checks

There are three types of transactions that take place on Reddit, specifically in the /r/gunsforsale section. And each of these is completely legal.

The first type are gun dealers selling excess stock or specialty items. One of those dealers is our very own FirearmConcierge, who regularly lists guns for sale on Reddit for people to buy. By Federal law, these gun dealers are required to only sell their firearms to (a) other licensed gun dealers or (b) individuals face-to-face following a background check. All sales by gun dealers are required to have a paper trail and be recorded in their bound book, which can be examined by the ATF at any time. Just because a gun dealer is selling their guns online does not mean that they skip the background check.

The one exception for dealers not requiring a background check is if the state has a secondary mechanism for making sure criminals aren’t buying guns. Virginia uses their state police system instead of NICS for the checks, for example. And Texas allows those with a Concealed Handgun License (or “CHL,” which requires an extensive background check and fingerprinting, along with a training course and proficiency test) to use their CHL in place of a background check. But either way, a background check is performed at some point in the process.

The second type is a personal sale across state lines. I have sold a couple firearms online this way, and according to Federal law those guns must be shipped to a gun dealer in the buyer’s state. That gun dealer will perform a background check before releasing the gun to the buyer. Failure to do so is a Federal felony, which the ATF will investigate and prosecute.

Both of the previous types of sales require background checks. Failure to perform background checks in these cases is already a federal crime. And as much as the gun control advocates will claim that no background checks are performed for these online gun sales, the truth is that there’s no way for them to know unless they visit every single gun shop and look at their bound books. Which they won’t, so they’ll make up “facts” instead, which MJ will no doubt trumpet.

The third type of sale is a face to face transfer between individuals in the same state. Depending on state law, those transfers do not have to come with a background check and are still completely legal, but the guns must be transferred in person. I’m sure Gawker and MJ will make a big deal out of this, but if they don’t like it they can feel free to change the law.

There is absolutely no proof that any illegal firearms sales are now or have ever been conducted through Reddit’s /r/gunsforsale section.

2. FirearmConcierge Talks About Dealers who Don’t Do Background Checks

Like I mentioned before, certain states have laws in place that require gun dealers to use a background check system that is administered by the state instead of the Federal NICS system. Maryland uses the Maryland State Police. Virginia uses the Virginia State Police. Texas allows those with a Concealed Handgun License to substitute that state issued license for a Federal NICS check when buying a gun from a dealer. And if you have a Federal Firearms License, such as if you’re a licensed gun dealer, you don’t need to pass a background check to buy guns since your license is proof that the ATF has already cleared you. So when FC said the following:

There are plenty of dealers out there who make sales without doing background checks. I know dealers who operate exclusively without doing any background checks.

Really, all he was talking about were the dealers he knows in Texas and elsewhere who deal exclusively with CHL holders and other firearms dealers. It is entirely possible to exist as a firearms dealer and never run a single background check, and furthermore it’s completely legal. In fact, there are many firearms dealers who sell their guns online only, and as a result only deal with other licensed gun dealers and never perform a background check. It’s not unusual, but taken out of context it can be made to seem malicious.

Speaking of the law . . .

3. It’s Completely Legal

There was a court case a few months back where the Brady Campaign tried to sue Armslist (a website which allows people to list their guns for sale) saying that a gun sold on their site was used in a murder and therefore Armslist was liable for the murder. Naturally, the Brady Campaign lost and Armslist was found to have not violated any laws whatsoever. Reddit is the same way — they provide a place for individuals to find each other and trade guns, which is a completely legal thing to do. They even post a warning to remind people to stay within the law:

WARNING: Please be aware of all state and federal laws that apply to you and any parties involved in a firearms-related transaction. You are responsible for knowing and following the law. This subreddit and its staff are in no way responsible for informing you of the law, but will make every effort to do so.

The meat and potatoes of the MJ and Gawker articles is going to be the “OMG people are selling guns on my beloved Reddit!” reaction. Not that what they’re doing is necessarily illegal (although no doubt they will make every attempt to make it sound illegal) but that something people don’t agree with is happening on a site that they visit. They’re depending on the backlash of Reddit users to force this kind of activity off the site, despite the fact that plenty of other areas of the site have far more questionable behavior (such as illegal drugs, how-to sections for emotional manipulation of women, etc).

That’s the interesting double standard that people apply to guns. If you want to sell illegal drugs across state lines, Redditors don’t have a problem with that. But if you want to legally sell guns across state lines with a background check on the buyer, some of them lose their minds simply because Reddit was involved. Discussing drug use in /r/trees is A-OK, but discussing your firearms hobby in /r/guns is abhorrent even though guns are a completely legal and socially acceptable activity.

The fact of the matter is that what /r/gunsforsale is doing is completely 100% legal, and not even the Brady Campaign is able to prove otherwise.

4. Gun owners are not criminals

There’s no doubt that these articles will try to link the legal behavior of gun owners to impending criminal violence. Some of the people in the /r/gunsarecool area have even taken to re-posting people’s pictures of their guns with the title “If this redditor snaps,” implying that gun owners are all nutjobs and waiting to “snap” and kill a whole bunch of people. They’ve done it a couple times to me in the past, such as here and here. But as we’ve proven time and again (and have this handy post to prove) gun ownership does not increase crime, gun owners are more law abiding than the police, and inanimate objects to not posses a demonic spirit that wills the owner into mass slaughter.

According to the statistics, you’re safer being in a room full of people with a concealed handgun license than police officers. But Mother Jones and Gawker don’t care — the narrative is that gun owners are proto-criminals and that’s what they’re sticking with.

5. The forthcoming group firearm purchase is for stripped lowers, not “assault weapons”

The guys in /r/guns are preparing to do a group purchase of custom designed AR-15 lower receivers, with funny images for the rollmark and funny words for the selector labels. I’d like to take a second to point out that, under no definition heretofore presented by gun control advocates or enshrined in any state law, is a stripped lower receiver considered an “assault weapon.” Gun control advocates define an “assault weapon” by the types of attachments the gun has, and a stripped lower has exactly none of those features. In fact, AR-15 rifles have been constructed as far away as England which meet with the approval of the local constabulary as not being “assault weapons.” So to presume that a stripped lower and an “assault weapon” are the same thing is a tad sensationalist and premature. Doesn’t matter to MJ, as they’ve already made up their minds that the AR-15 is inherently evil and gun owners are evil.

The fact is that a stripped lower is no more an assault weapon than a pressure cooker from Williams Sonoma is a bomb.

In short, Mother Jones, Gawker and others are being fed information from a gun control advocacy group to write an article about how evil gun sales are happening on the beloved Reddit. But nothing illegal is going on. It’s sensationalism at its best, the equivalent of an “OMG deadly assault steak knives being sold at WAL MART!” story trying to whip up a public outcry against a group of people minding their own business and following the law. It’s yellow journalism at its finest, with the hate and vitriol being focused directly on law abiding gun owners.

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About Nick Leghorn

Nick Leghorn is a gun nerd living and working in San Antonio, Texas. In his free time, he's a competition shooter (USPSA, 3-gun and NRA High Power), aspiring pilot, and enjoys mixing statistics and science with firearms. Now on sale: Getting Started with Firearms by yours truly!

68 Responses to The Truth About Gun Sales on Reddit

  1. avatarMyron Sussbaum says:

    All this hurts my head and makes the good ole days of buying stuff from Nam vets out of the trunks of their Novas that much more endearing.

  2. avatarNYC2AZ says:

    So what you’re saying is “Ops Normal” at MJ and Gawker (and CNN and MSNBC and etc, etc, etc). Roger that. I think I’ll pass on giving them the web traffic that they so yern.

  3. avatarJeff says:

    If that makes you angry, you should see their “If this Redditor snaps…” series on Imgur, where they just post photos taken from gun owners on Reddit and parrot the typical attitude that at some point this person will “snap”, because you know, all gun owners are mental cases who just haven’t found their trigger yet.

    http://imgur.com/Cof77K9

    • avatarNYC2AZ says:

      You should post a picture of Karl Pierson (without a gun) and a couple of his anti-gun FB comments underneath with the title “If this guy snaps… oh wait, he did.”

      • avatarChris says:

        You would get immediately downvoted and banned. That group doesn’t let such insolence become commonplace and they’ll instantly blame r/guns or r/progun for doing it.

        • avatarEric says:

          I have two Reddit accounts I haven’t used since 2009, and probably haven’t down voted anything since then, that kind of changed today >=)

          The greatest part though, when you down vote the admin displays this message “Thank you for donating $1 to Bloomberg’s campaign against illegal guns” all to try and curb the down voting the sub gets constantly.

          My next custom rifle build for this year 9″ 300 BLK with a can, will have the following engraved on the lower. ” Townsley MK I”

  4. avatartdiinva says:

    There are two types of people who make these claims about online gun sales. The Brady types who know darn well that this is a legal activity that they don’t like so they will tell lies about it in order move public opinion. Then there are the far more numerous ignorant who read what Bloomberg and Brady types say and parrot back this false claims. A small core group of gun grabbers use classic disinformation techniques to spawn a much larger group of opinion makers in an effort to create a public wave that will help accomplish their objective. Unfortunately, it is very hard to correct this kind of disinformation because those who believe it take it on faith and are unwilling to consider other views.. They will never see this article let alone read and understand it.

    • avatarJim R says:

      Unfortunately on the Internet any sufficiently popular opinion is fact as far as anyone is concerned. Popular is right, unpopular is wrong. It’s mob rule at its worst.

      • avatarJAS says:

        In case you missed it “mob rule” is called a democracy. That is why our founding fathers rejected democracy and made the US a constitutional republic, where individual rights should reign supreme.

    • avatarrlc2 says:

      Thank you Nick for this excellent article and proactive submission. TDI I agree with your comment in general but posit that the people TTAG can help are those in the middle – the classical liberals and libertarians who are smart enough to legerage their access to info, like at reddit. Some are hard core koolaid drinkers and black hat/cypto anarchist wannabes but most grow out of it. Especially when presented with facts in a respeftful fashion.

      • avatarrlc2 says:

        Gawker and MJ are obviously doubling down on stupid thinking they own this mind space. Clearly its no coincidence that the disinfomatzia is happening across the Journolista spectrum and Soros sponsored think tanks and NGOs.

        A very simple counter tactic is drop links into comment sections and watch the traffic grow here and awareness evolve.

      • avatarrlc2 says:

        The truth will out. It always does and the innertubes only hastens it.

        “Can’t stop the signal, Mel.”

  5. avatarJim R says:

    I expect nothing less from the two most outright Socialist blogs on the Internet.

  6. avatarShire-man says:

    Whenever I point out that illegal transfers are illegal whether they occur out of the back of a van or through some website it’s always the website that gets the scorn and never the van.

    That tells me their problem is more with free and open exchange of communication than it is with guns.

    Tyrants always fear the printing press. Things like “hate speech” are manufactured excuses to turn the heat up on the printing press. “Online gun sales” is just an excuse to turn up the heat on the Internet.

  7. avatarST says:

    Ironic how people can literally order hard illegal drugs online, but all the wailing and teeth knashing is about a Constitutionally protected product.

    How about we do something about those online Heroin exchanges first people?

  8. avatarTommy says:

    Reddit…You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.

  9. avatarSarcasm says:

    We’re on day 2 of 2014 and my yearly “is reddit really as badly formatted and troll-filled as I remember?” visit has been taken care of. So, thanks for getting it out of the way early, I’ll now go back to avoiding reddit links entirely.

  10. avatarDirk Diggler says:

    This exactly the type of response needed to counter these bastards. Now.. . . . for added pleasure, send this exactly to FoxNews and link to the MJ article. They love nothing better than to mock their online “competition” and this would be a perfect way for a (lazy) editor to stir the pot

    • avatardisthunder says:

      This guy…he gets it. That’s an excellent idea.

      • avatarDirk Diggler says:

        we also need this precise type of dispassionate response for Shannon Watts and MAIG’s new b!tch, MDA, to show their claim of one mass killing every day or 745 children murdered is bs and when you count 18-24 yr olds as children, invariably, you get gang bangers. then we mock them through the media to show they want to protect gang bangers for urban areas while living in their gated communities and $1M homes drinking chardonnay.. . . . yep, make this personal, public and brutal.

        • avatarRoscoe says:

          Exactly; love this plan. I’m with you 110 percent, Dirk.

          And which major media outlets are going to run with these exposes?

          Even Fox hedges and plays pansy on the gun issue from time to time. They’re about the only option available to expose the anti’s BS propaganda, which they’ll do if the story is of enough clarity and consequence.

          It would truly be a great day if big media were to actually broadcasts a revealing, truthful balanced portrayal of the anti’s efforts to subvert the Constitution and disarm Americas honorable law abiding citizens for the antis illegitimate ends. I wish I could be more optimistic.

          Maybe if we object loudly enough, often enough, to create a scene, they’ll have to play the pushback, with they’re own liberal media spin, of course.

    • avatarCliff H says:

      Excuse me, Dirk, you seem quite erudite, educated, and droll…I’ll bet if you wrote such an article RF would publish it here in a heartbeat.

      You up for the challenge?

  11. avatarJus Bill says:

    The first sh1tstorm of 2014 is beginning:
    Duck Dynasty Guys Ink a Deal to Make Assault Weapons, Just Like Jesus
    http://feeds.gawker.com/~r/gawker/full/~3/R-A4sLbekBM/duck-dynasty-guys-ink-a-deal-to-make-assault-weapons-j-1493090726
    And in keeping with their complete and abject ignorance of all things GUN!, they have a picture of two carried shotguns.

    You can’t make this stuff up…

    • avatarMichael B. says:

      LMAO

    • avatarMatt in FL says:

      Duck Dynasty Guys Ink a Deal to Make Slap Their Name On Assault Weapons

      Fix’d

    • avatarJeff says:

      how about they sponsor a line of razors?

      pretty tired of seeing the worst of redneck culture being glorified on TV, and I don’t care how much they’re “good Christians” or “family men.” they look, talk, and act like a bunch of bums who ran into a bit of money.

      P.S. I’m not surprised their name gets attached to the crappy Mossberg abortion of a .22LR AR knockoff

    • avatarBarbicane says:

      Interesting. This is actual gun industry news. Duck Commander had a deal with Benelli the last several years, and now they have switched to Mossberg. Endorsement deals are big news in any industry, and Mossberg seems to be on the move to lock in Big Names™ for their shotguns (see also any Miculek video with Mossberg plastered blurbs).

    • avatarTommy says:

      The thing that makes me most disgusted is the complete lack of journalistic skills that almost all of these writes display. There was a time when there were actual journalists who would confirm their sources and their facts, and write impartial stories letting the reader judge for themselves. The opinions were restricted to the columns and the editorials. Now we have any idiot who can figure out how to create a blog being called a journalist, spread misinformation and be taken seriously.

  12. avatarTom in Oregon says:

    Thank goodness face-to-face transactions are still legal here in Oregon.
    New Years resolution: I’ll work at not giving web traffic hits to idiot sites.

    • avatarCliff H says:

      Along those lines, although they occasionally (accidentally) have some interesting posts, can we minimize direct links to HuffPo?

  13. avatarBo says:

    I am so sick of seeing pictures of “evil black military assault-style weapons” in pictures every day in the news, along with the media foaming at the mouth. These guns still represent a small percentage of firearms that are owned and cherished by Americans for centuries. Yes, the “black rifle” has been popularized for decades now, and has been available to the general public for use since the 60′s. It’s here to stay for many reasons. How is it so evil?

    • avatarCliff H says:

      These types of weapons are just tools, but for some reason people who are bat-shit crazy and want to kill a lot of people still seem to be sane enough to understand that this is the proper tool for the job. Unfortunately the anti-2A crowd then wants to paint the tool as evil, as though the whack-job was not the source o the problem.

  14. avatarMatthew says:

    Good Rule of Thumb: You can’t go calling Mother Jones and Gawker the sensationalist sites and in that same paragraph say that reddit’s own Gun Control Advocacy subreddit “dances with joy every time there’s a mass murder” while expecting people to take you seriously.

  15. avatar40&2000 says:

    Some states do consider a stripped AR lower an assault weapon. As of Oct 1, 2013 you cannot buy a stripped lower in Maryland. Since it can be built into a now banned “assault rifle” configuration they are banned. Stupid, but that’s the way it is.

  16. avatarRoscoe says:

    This is the second stage of the social re-engineering/re-programming propaganda the antis have been up to for years. It started with conditioning the populace via the educational system and the media where it continues. Now the grabbers are going go out to the market place and anywhere else guns are present attempting to brow beat, embarrass or otherwise intimidate the enterprise system into suppressing the fully legal gun related activity, whether it be sales, raffles, sponsorship, or what have you.

    Only exposure with the true complete facts disarms the accusations, but as with any reputational obliteration, once the accusation is made, the damage is done and the goal of implanting a picture in the public mind further demonizing guns and those who use or own them has been achieved.

    Raymond Donovan once said, “Which office do I go to get my reputation back?” Same concept.

  17. avatarblakdawg says:

    The anticipated “exposes” probably won’t tell you that the Guns Are Cool subreddit was founded by “violentacrez”, a/k/a Michael Brutsch, who’s mostly famous for being exposed (by Gawker) as the driving force behind a number of subreddits featuring, in Gawker’s words, “scantily-clad underage girls . . . of racism, porn, gore, misogyny, incest, and exotic abominations yet unnamed”, the last of those exotic abominations being an especially sarcastic and condescending flavor of gun control advocacy.

    http://gawker.com/5950981/unmasking-reddits-violentacrez-the-biggest-troll-on-the-web

    • avatarWilliam Burke says:

      “…scantily-clad underage girls . . . of racism, porn, gore, misogyny, incest, and exotic abominations yet unnamed”, the last of those exotic abominations being an especially sarcastic and condescending flavor of gun control advocacy.”

      Some of us call people of that description “police informants”.

  18. avatarbrotherwayne says:

    “section of Reddit called /r/gunsarecool that dances with joy every time there’s a mass murder.”

    There isn’t enough fuck you in the world to address this sentence. Do you have any basis for that? Doubtful. No, you just posted that because it was sensationalist. You lost all your credibility when you wrote that.

  19. avatarMatt says:

    In the new CT laws parts that can be used to construct an assault weapon or rapidly convert a firearm to an assault weapon are possibly classified as assault weapons… or at the very least restricted for ownership and sale and need to be registered. Its not really clear, like many other sections of the new laws what exactly this means. I’ve never seen anything that satisfactorily explained it.

    • avatarAnon in CT says:

      For instance, if you currently own a newly-double-registered and “grandfathered” AR in CT, and then you were to acquire a stripped lower, you COULD take parts from your current, barely-state-tolerated weapon and use it to turn that stripped lower into an illegal assault weapon. Which is why no FFL in CT will sell a lower at this point.

      • avatarCliff H says:

        Since, as I understand it, the BATFE does not consider a stripped lower to be a firearm, couldn’t you get one on the InterWebz and have it shipped to your doorstep? How would any CT authority attempting to enforce illegal, unconstitutional, anti-2A laws even know you had it?

        More importantly, if you want such a thing, why are you still paying taxes in Connecticut?

        • avatar40&2000 says:

          No. On the AR platform the lower IS the firearm. It is the seriailized “chassis”. Not sure where you got a stripped lower not being a firearm.

        • avatarAnon in CT says:

          Maybe you mean an 80% complete lower? Still dicey, since if you finish it your are in violation.

  20. avatarrlc2 says:

    PS: Firearms Concierge that was a very cogent explanation that per my homework on the laws is spot on. Pls pm me in forum or provide a link to your biz. When I need to buy something out of state I want to do business with you.

  21. avatarVhyrus says:

    I had no idea that there was an armslist section of reddit, and I think that is fantastic! Imagine if there was a gun classifeds section of the New York Times?

    • avatarCliff H says:

      Imagine how often the person responding to such ads would be an undercover Bloomberg …I mean NYPD officer.

  22. avatarmikeywb1983 says:

    One major correction needs to be made about the Texas Chl portion. It doesn’t replace the background check but rather grants an automatic pass. Every FFL dealer in Texas has to have a completed 4473 form for each and firearm sold from its location if the buyer takes possesion of that firearm on its premises.

  23. avatarBrad says:

    Ha ha that one post called Nick a “blog spammer”

  24. avatarWilliam Burke says:

    MOTHER JONES is hardly “sensationalist”; rather it is an Old Left publication. The ones who wear their CPUSA Member cards pinned to their lapels.

  25. avatarMR45 says:

    No one has contacted me or my fellow mods of /r/gunsforsale in preparation of this article. Could it possibly be biased?

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