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Press release:

PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The bipartisan coalition of Mayors Against Illegal Guns [MAIG] today  announced that the gun used to kill three people and injure at least four more at a spa in Brookfield, Wisconsin was bought from an unlicensed private seller advertising on – a popular firearms vendor New York City investigated in a sting operation less than one year ago . . .

Radcliffe Haughton, the shooter, was the subject of a domestic violence restraining order, and was therefore barred under federal law from purchasing or possessing a firearm. But because private sellers are not required to conduct background checks – unlike licensed firearms dealers – he completed his purchase and used the weapon to murder his estranged wife and two others.

The City of New York investigated in a first-of-its-kind investigation and documented its findings, along with undercover video of illegal gun purchases, in “Point, Click, Fire: An Undercover Investigation of Illegal Online Gun Sales.” The investigation uncovered a vast, unregulated online market for illegal guns in which 62 percent of online sellers, including 54 percent of those on, agreed to sell guns to investigators posing as buyers who claimed they could not pass a background check – a felony under federal law.

In the last 100 days, there were more than 30,000 unique gun listings on alone. Twenty-six thousand of those ads were listed by private sellers – fully 86 percent.

“Federal law prohibited this man from buying a gun, but loopholes in the law make buying a gun without a background check as easy as turning on a computer,” said Mayors Against Illegal Guns Co-Chair and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. “Now, how can any elected official say that the broken background check system works? How can they look in the eyes of the families – the victims’ families – and tell them this system doesn’t need to be fixed? They can’t.”

“Our gun laws give people like Radcliffe Haughton two choices: buy a gun from a dealer and undergo a background check or buy a gun from a private seller, no background check and no questions asked,” said Mayors Against Illegal Guns Co-Chair and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “These loopholes have devastating consequences for the many families in our communities affected by gun violence. The solution is simple, but we must have a plan from leadership in Washington.”

Licensed gun dealers are required to conduct criminal background checks on prospective buyers, but because of a gap in the law, so-called “private sellers” do not need to. It is estimated that more than 40 percent of annual U.S. gun sales are private sales.

A growing share of firearms sales takes place over the Internet – often conducted by private sellers, without background checks, in largely anonymous and undocumented transactions.

The findings of the New York City investigation prompted Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a bipartisan coalition of more than 725 mayors working to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, to launch “Fix Gun Checks: Delete Online Outlaws” to call on websites to crack down on illegal gun sales and adopt common sense policies like requiring sellers to register with the site before listing guns for sale, requiring buyers to register before contacting sellers and providing a simple mechanism for users to flag suspicious behavior.

Polls by GOP pollster Frank Luntz for Mayors Against Illegal Guns found overwhelming public support for universal background checks including 87 percent of non-NRA gun owners and 74 percent of NRA members. The survey also found that 57 percent of NRA members mistakenly believe that all gun sales are subject to background checks.

On October 21st, Haughton shot and killed four people including his estranged wife and himself, and injured four others when he opened fire at the Azana Salon and Spa in Brookfield, Wisconsin where his estranged wife worked.

Haughton had a history of domestic abuse and his wife was granted a restraining order against him last Thursday, October 18th after Haughton slashed the tires of her car. In court Zina Haughton, the shooter’s estranged wife, said, “He threatened to throw acid in my face, burn me and my family with gas. His threats terrorize my every waking moment.” The restraining order barred him under federal law from purchasing or possessing firearms.

SOURCE Mayors Against Illegal Guns

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  1. Armslist is not a vendor…They are the craigslist of firearms, allowing one person to sell to another. State laws may vary, but for my state you only have to *think* (or not have prior knowledge) that the person you are selling to is not prohibited by law from owning the gun you sell to them, and are a state resident. I used it last month with zero problems.

    • Well, at least Bloomy & Co. don’t want to trample just the 2nd Amendment – they’re also looking to curb the 1st. So they’re diverse, I guess.

  2. Lets play a game-What if MAIG were located in the United Kingdom?

    “Today, police discovered that a mugger in the public square said the word “gun” last week. We of MAIG believe that the very word ‘gun’ suggests a desire for wanton violence, as clearly suggested by the mugger’s use of a knife for his latest robbery. As you know, firearms are heavily restricted here but we must go further to ensure that guns are kept out of the hands of bad people!Get rid of the “English Language Loophole” and ban the word GUN from the dictionary!”

  3. I do not understand why this is a big deal to people. I walk in my gun shop, pick up my new 50 cal sniper rifle from the veggie bin, get my background check, give them LOTS of money, go out and shoot groundhogs.

    Armslist, same thing. My upcoming gun show in Fort Worth, same thing. No biggie. Unless of course I am felon.

    Now I will burglarize a gun owners house to obtain a firearm. OOPS!!! She was awake. Darn, that hurt, anyone coming to my funeral????

  4. Uhm..
    So unless this seller was in the same state and city, which I don’t know, doesn’t the gun need to go through an FFL dealer? I know it does here in CA, and even person to person transactions need to go through an FFL, even if we are neighbors.
    So basically it sounds like the seller agreed to meet in person or shipped it illegally.
    Queue the lawyers in 3……2…….1……

    • No, there is no national requirement for private sales to go through a FFL if the sale is to a resident of the same state. It’s a matter for state law; some require it, some don’t.

    • @sanchanim:

      Your state has the same laws as mine but this is not true for all states. Overall, you can only sell within your state, but states like CT requires you to do a background check and fill out the same paper work as a new gun and then keep those records for 20yrs.

      In many states, like GA, you can sell it to anyone with no check and no paperwork.

    • I don’t know what the laws are in Wisconsin, but there are no such restrictions in the two states I have lived in (Georgia and Virginia) as long as both parties are state residents.

    • CA guns sales go to a local FFL which recieves the firearm and subsequently conducts the background check and required documentation.

      I find it interesting that “untracked” gun sales represent 40% of all transactions. How the f$&@ do they know that if they are untracked?

    • Same state is a must, city doesn’t matter. I’ve use Armslist many times, only after putting in some seriousf time on the Federal and State laws. It’s 100% legit in most places to do face-to-face private party transfers of any non-NFA item with no background check. I always make sure the seller/buyer will let me take down their DL information and sign a firearms bill of sale that includes a very detailed description of the gun being transfered. If they act shady, I say “I’m sorry but I don’t feel comfortable with this transaction.” and leave. Its straight forward and legal. No lawyers necessary, he was a criminal doing criminal things.

  5. Has anyone checked to see who the judge granting the
    restraining order is? Or who he was appointed by?

    The irony would be overwhelming if the judge was
    helped in his appointment by a member of MAIG.
    What a match, a judge that lets an obvious threat
    go with a piece of paper and a stern look and
    a MAIG member who doesn’t understand that
    criminals commit crimes.

  6. Would this be the same investigation that NYPD –a municipal police force, regardless of its size– did that went beyond their jurisdiction of going into other states without getting local permission?

  7. I’m a member of a large georgia gun forum. There has been rumours that MAIG, the ATF, and some media have tried undercover gun buys. Buys where everything seems set, and at the FTF the buyer makes some vague comment about not being able to pass a background check.
    Some sellers have ended the transaction only to have the buyer up their offer, sometimes higher than new price.

    All of us walking examples of the gun show loophole need to be extra vigilant of this sort of thing, someone legit will buy that $400 Glock tomorrow.

  8. If I sell my car to someone who later runs over a group of school kids with it should I be held responsible for being an unlicensed car dealer? What about the set of Ginsu knives I sold at my yard sale. If some lady Bobbits her husband with them should we close the “yard sale loophole”?

  9. …in which 62 percent of online sellers, including 54 percent of those on, agreed to sell guns to investigators posing as buyers who claimed they could not pass a background check…

    I challenge this “fact.” I’ve dealt with people on armslist (and similar sites) and I seriously doubt anywhere close to this number sold to someone after they specifically stated they could not pass a check. In my experience, people will back out of a sale if they even think it smells funny. I’ve had people back out on me just because they didn’t like the tone of my email. It sucked for me, but they’re entitled to sell (or not) to whomever they like.

    • That statistic is only plausible if it represents a carefully selected subset of super-sketchy Armslist sellers who fit the profile of being very likely to sell to a self-declared ineligible buyer.

    • I think trades of decent guns on armslist make me feel better. Both because you can get a good gun at a good price, and the fact that the other person also owns a gun they spent a decent amount of money on shows me that they probably passed a background check at some point when buying that gun. But yeah, most people Ive contacted on Armslist are very wary. Ive had the same experience of people backing out of a deal, and backed out a deal myself as well because I didnt get a good feeling about the guy.

  10. sanchanim says:
    “So unless this seller was in the same state and city”

    IANL, here in the free State of Kansas, face to face between state residents are good to go. No checks required. I never ever sold a firearm (much less sell a child of mine), and have no intention to. If I were to sell a gun, I would require to see I.D. and make a Bill of Sale.

    Not required, just a feel good CYA thing.

    Interstate FTF long arms is a different animal with other rules.

    • Actually, it’s not. Check the ATF website. One can purchase a long arm, face to face, out of state, legally. State laws may vary, however.

  11. Given the guy’s stated intentions, he would likely have committed murder with or without a gun. Besides, I thought stated threats of violence were illegal in the first place?

  12. Seriously, did Bloomberg read 1984 and think that “big brother”was a good idea? This is a free country and so deal with it and leave those of us who like the constitution alone.

  13. Here in Nebraska, all that is required is for the person to possess a Nebraska Permit to Purchase and that only applies for handguns. Longguns, there is no restriction other than the usual age restrictions.

  14. First, it’s not a loophole. You should have the right to sell your personal property to another individual without using an agent. That said, there are a couple of sane ways to improve the situation.

    First, we need to take restraining orders more seriously. If a restraining order is issued because of a person’s violent history, it should be legal to shoot to kill immediately when it’s obvious that person intends to willfully violate that restraining order. Furthermore, the person who obtains the restraining order should be *encouraged* to arm and protect themselves.

    Second, we can’t just let any Joe Bag o’ Donuts run a background check on anyone they feel like. However, you can give Joe the option of refusing to sell a gun to anyone who won’t run a background check on *themselves* and give a private hash code to Joe so Joe can go to a web site and look up the pass/fail *result* of that background check without seeing any of the buyer’s personal details other than enough info to tie the results to the buyer’s photo ID.

    NICS could relatively easily implement a system like that in a short time at a low cost. If these jackass mayors were serious about this, they’d be pushing for a system like that rather than trying to make it even more difficult for a person like this victim to protect themselves from their asshole husband.

  15. As a resident of California – where the “private sales loophole” has already been closed – it’s illegal to give, transfer or sell your guns to anyone who isn’t an FFL.

    The practical effect of this is to make private sales difficult. They must occur face-to-face (no shipping whatsoever), an FFL must “process” the paperwork, and the state collects a tax (instead of but typically higher than sales tax). Because the notion that one can’t sell their private property to anyone of their choosing is very alien to many Americans, California’s private firearms sales ban is frequently ignored. This, of course, turns many law-abiding citizens into felons.

    California’s private firearms sales ban hasn’t quelled the demand for even more restrictive gun control, either.

  16. It’s a good thing that many states have an unencumbered right to keep and bear arms in their constitutions. They cannot “close the gun show loophole” in my state without a constitutional change.

  17. [sigh]

    Gun control: The theory that private citizens exchanging private property in a private transaction contributes to violent crime in any meaningful manner. Additionally, the theory that governmental involvement in said private transaction would reduce violent crime in any meaningful manner.

  18. So… a wife beater violated the law? Didt he know there were laws against domestic abuse?

    MAIG can stuff it, they only recently started to remove the dead mayors, not to mention the felons (who would not legally be allowed to possess a firearm) from their official listed ranks.

  19. If a listing service like Armslist is responsible for a spree killer who reads an ad on it and buys a gun in a private sale, then the city that the killer lives in is even more responsible because it allows the criminal to live freely within its limits. Someone please have America’s most obnoxious dwarf arrested for every crime that takes place in New Yuck City, the bedbug filled utopia that he presides over.

  20. It’s already illegal to KNOWINGLY sell a gun to a prohibited person, even if you are a private seller, so, with regard to all the supposed cases where people agreed to sell to people they knew were prohibited, they are going to do this with or without background checks. They are breaking the law now, they know they are breaking the law and they will keep right on breaking the law no matter what background check laws are passed. They will just continue to sell to prohibited people without putting the sale through the required background check. The OBVIOUS solution, with or without any change to the background checks system and laws is to prosecute people who knowingly sell to prohibited persons.

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