“KSL.com will soon decide whether to keep, close or modify the handguns and firearms category of its free classified ad site, after rumors arose that the private sales could circumvent laws designed to keep weapons out of the hands of criminals and children.” Yes, you heard right: rumors. Not isolated incidents. And before we deep dive into the skewed logic triggering the paper’s “rethink,” know this: it is perfectly legal for one Utah citizen to sell another Utah citizen a firearm—gasp!—without a background check. As it is in most places within The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. Do we really want the government inserting itself into the middle of a private commercial transaction involving firearms, so it can monitor and influence these sales? For some, yes! Think of the children . . .
Questions about the ad category came up as reporters from KSL’s sister company, Deseret News, were interviewing sources for a story on guns in Utah. Some alleged that the wildly successful site is not only a marketplace for legitimate gun owners to buy and sell handguns, but that it has potential to be a haven for those seeking to get around legal restrictions. Several sellers also said they only sell unregistered guns, since they don’t want potential problems to come back against them.
State and federal laws prohibit the sale of handguns to minors or felons, but while licensed gun dealers must verify age and run a background check, no such requirement exists for private gun sales like those advertised on KSL Classifieds. It would also be difficult to police a law banning the sale of a gun to someone who lives in a different state.
I’m confused. What’s an unregistered gun? Aren’t all gun sales recorded by the original dealer as they enter commercial life? And doesn’t the paper know it’s illegal for a private individual to sell a gun to a felon or a minor? And while there are these potential problems with private sales, where’s the evidence of an actual problem?
There’s no evidence any laws have been broken by buyers and sellers who find each other through KSL.com, but that it could happen is troubling, Atkinson said.
“Public trust and safety are paramount values for our company. We invest significant resources into creating a safe haven on KSL.com. We have a team that works to remove fraudulent classified ads from the site. We also work with law enforcement, providing information that it subpoenas.”
Can I get that in writing? The bit about only providing information that law enforcement subpoenas? And while you’re at it, how about a written guarantee that the paper’s crack classified crime busting team will not investigate private gun sales?
Needless to say, it’s got nothing to do with KLS.com’s civic-mindedness. Clearly, the paper’s lawyers don’t want any blow-back if/when a felon uses a gun purchased in a classified ad to blow away a cop. Or a mental patient buys one via the ads and goes Loughner. Or something similar.
Hence the current policy: a legal disclaimer. A policy that duplicates the warning already placed in the ads by gun dealers. And private citizens—no doubt “advised” to do so by the classified order takers. Anyway, here’s KSL.com’s ode to indemnity . . .
LEGAL NOTICE: Please be advised that purchases and sales of firearms may be subject to various restrictions under federal and state laws. KSL.com is not responsible for ensuring that your particular transaction complies with applicable law, and KSL.com recommends that you seek appropriate counsel regarding legal restrictions or prohibitions on firearms sales before buying or selling firearms.
Actually, that works for me. How about we get the Mayors Against Illegal Guns to put a sticker like that on all guns sold at gun shows? I could live with that. Could you?