In the quest for increased regulations on firearms, one common refrain from gun control activists is how easy it is for illegal guns to be bought and sold online. This story from NPR in 2016 specifically targeted Armslist, but while it made a lot of accusations it never actually proved that anyone was buying or selling guns in violation of the law. The closest it came was to use a Mayors Against Illegal Guns study (funded by gun control activist Michael Bloomberg) to imply that some sellers on the site might have a criminal background. In an effort to put some hard data behind the claims, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) funded an operation which attempted to see how successfully a prohibited person (as defined in 18 USC 922) could purchase a firearm online. The result? A 0% success rate on the public internet.
From the study:
Tests performed on the Surface Web demonstrated that private sellers GAO contacted on gun forums and other classified ads were unwilling to sell a firearm to an individual who appeared to be prohibited from possessing a firearm. Of the 72 attempts agents made to purchase firearms on the Surface Web, 56 sellers refused to complete a transaction: 29 sellers stated they would not ship a firearm and 27 refused after the disclosure of the undercover identities’ stated prohibited status. Furthermore, in 5 of these 72 attempts, the accounts GAO set up were frozen by the websites, which prevented the agents from using the forums and attempting to make a purchase.
When the GAO investigators went a little deeper into the shady Dark Web, a layer of the internet only accessible through encrypted tunnels, they did see some success in buying two firearms — an AR-15 and an Uzi which was converted for full auto fire. But even there, out of seven attempted purchases only two succeeded.
Of these seven attempts, two on a Dark Web marketplace were successful. Specifically, GAO agents purchased and received an AR-15 rifle and an Uzi that the seller said was modified so that it would fire automatically. GAO provided referral letters to applicable law enforcement agencies for these purchases to inform any ongoing investigations.
While the media and gun control activist organizations might scream about the easy availability of guns online, the reality is that unless you’re skilled enough to find your way onto the dark web then the chances of you illegally buying a gun are slim to none. Every single person the GAO investigators attempted to purchase a gun from on the normal public internet followed the law and refused to sell their firearm.
Not that the gun control activists care. They don’t seem interested in facts anyway.