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Yesterday I published a diary about buying guns via an online gun marketplace website and how easy it seemed to be to join the site, sign up and buy guns without a background check or sell guns without a Federal Firearms License.

Despite angry comments by gun supporters claiming my diary was misleading, a little more research shows that there are well-known legal issues and loopholes in gun laws regarding the purchase of guns online.

There are many ways to buy and sell guns online so I am going to break this down into a few diaries over the next few weeks.  Guns can be purchased via classified websites, auction websites and listing sites. There issues with shipping and payment and the transfer of guns. Criminals and even honest people who don't want to be subject to background checks or don't want their guns registered in certain states, can subvert the law. The research is interesting and frightening at the same time.
 

LAWSUIT FILED AGAINST POPULAR ONLINE GUN MARKETPLACE

Amid discussion about guns following last week's massacre of school children in Newtown, CT, a lawsuit has been filed against Armslist, a website that lists guns for sale.

On April 13, 2011, Jitka Vesel, 36 years old, was shot and killed by a man who admitted to stalking her for 2 1/2 years. According to NBC Chicago, after finding and mapping her address on the Internet, Dmitry Smirnov glued a tracking device to Vesel's car:

...that tracking device led him to the Oak Brook parking lot, outside the Czech Society of America, where Vesel was attending a meeting.

Authorities said Smirnov waited for Vesel and shot her when she walked out to her car, hitting her in the body and head.

Last Wednesday, a lawsuit was filed against Armslist, the website Smirnov used to buy the gun he used to kill Vesel. According to The Daily Beast:
"Vesel’s family and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a prominent gun-control advocacy group, filed a lawsuit against Armslist for negligence in allowing Smirnov to purchase his weapon. The suit claims Smirnov bought the gun illegally: private sellers are restricted to selling guns in-state only; Smirnov was an immigrant from Russia living in Canada when he bought the gun.
At a time when so many in this country are looking for ways to stop gun violence, this suit addresses the growing concern about loopholes in online gun sales.
The Brady Campaign, represented by Jonathan Lowy, director of the campaign’s Legal Action Project, says this is the first lawsuit against an online gun site for causing a shooting.

Gun control advocates say potentially taking down Armslist is a crucial piece of the complex task of narrowing what they say is a massive loophole that allows criminals to buy guns from private sellers without being background-checked.

It is a step in the right direction, at the right time:
John Feinblatt, the chairman of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, says the lawsuit is a “natural progression” as pressure to stop gun violence mounts.

“These cases are important because they stress that we have a background check system that’s like Swiss cheese,” Feinblatt says. “We have a very credible background check system that prevents thousands of people from buying guns illegally, but if we continue to have these gaps in the system, it just won’t work.”

The plaintiffs in the Vesel case are suing for an unspecified amount in damages—but her family and friends say they are primarily seeking justice for Vesel.

Jitka Vesel
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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (6+ / 0-)

    Women are 51% of the population yet are represented in congress by barely 17%! Until our representation reflects the population, we risk sliding backwards .....

    by 51percent on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 03:30:09 AM PST

    •  got to give him props for persistance (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cedwyn, KVoimakas, OldSoldier99

      though I don't see how someone can legally buy a gun online w/o an FFL unless it is private treaty.  The same thing can be said about print want ads or any other media used to advertise things for sale private treaty.

      If Armslist can be held legally liable for an illegal private treaty sale  because it was used to advertise the gun for sale, then newspapers and county shoppers can also be held liable.  After all, in the US anyone can file a lawsuit for any reason and such a filing does not indicate culpability.

      The author really needs to distinguish between private treaty sales and dealer or auction sales

      •  The distinction in diary is very clear to me, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        melfunction, Catte Nappe
        The author really needs to distinguish between private treaty sales and dealer or auction sales
        And the Daily Beast article linked in the diary includes more info, inclluding:
        An undercover investigation of online gun sales done by the City of New York released in 2011 found that 62 percent of private sellers agreed to sell guns to buyers who said they probably couldn’t pass a background check.

        The private-sale loophole is the first priority of a gun-control advocacy community ...
        Gun-control advocates are hopeful that the lawsuit will reveal the deadly potential of the private-sale loophole, but say the loophole will ultimately meet its demise through legislation in Washington, D.C., not in a courtroom.

        I'd be surprised if Armslist is held liable, but the point of the lawsuit is to increase public awareness of the perils in allowing private gun sales.

        The sh*t those people [republicans] say just makes me weep for humanity! - Woody Harrelson

        by SoCalSal on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 05:52:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  problem is how do you ban private sales? (0+ / 0-)

          How do you keep an individual from transferring a weapon from himself to another party?  This already occurs where weapons which are illegally obtained are then sold on the street.  All it would seem to do is to inconvenience people who want to do a lawful transfer vs those who do not, driving a portion of people now who would openly transfer their guns to then turn to gray market transfers.

          Would such a prohibition also include a ban on gifting guns to another party?  

          I have had several weapons stolen in the past year (all at once) all legally purchased and all registered and if they are ever used in a crime, they can be traced back to me.  The question is am I responsible for the actions of someone who steals a weapon from me?  I reported the guns as stolen and the police investigated and they are now supposedly listed as stolen in some sort of data base.  I have seen it proposed that gun owners be responsible for crimes committed with their weapons but I see no corresponding proposal that auto owners be held responsible if their vehicles are stolen and used in a crime.

          I am hoping the debate, on both sides, becomes more coherent as it progresses

          •  several? how did that happen? (0+ / 0-)
            •  easy; keep them sequestered in one place so when (0+ / 0-)

              the thief enters the storage area, he only has to defeat the gun cabinet's external lock and whatever internal locks there are or conversely, just take the entire cabinet if there are enough people to carry it

          •  Private sales and gifting (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            51percent

            would not be easy with stricter requirements for gun sales, registration and screenings, but could probably be done. Some would skirt the law as they do with car registration, driver licenses, visa requirements, etc., but noncompliance by some doesn't lessen the need for stricter, more closely monitored laws.

            As to your question about gun owners responsibility for crimes committed with their weapons? No, for the same reason you cite about auto owners not held responsible. Yet the attendant question is whether there should be laws for secure storage of guns, with punishment for careless disregard for safety. I don't know whether such laws exist now, anywhere.

            This past week a three-year old killed himself with a gun left on a nightstand. The toddler and his family was visiting the home of a state trooper who knew better but possibly wasn't used to children in his house. Shockingly careless in light of the tragedy, but I don't know what preventive laws and their enforcement that I'd want to choose.
             

            The sh*t those people [republicans] say just makes me weep for humanity! - Woody Harrelson

            by SoCalSal on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 02:24:46 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  wait for it ... (0+ / 0-)

        you guys are so predictable<

        Women are 51% of the population yet are represented in congress by barely 17%! Until our representation reflects the population, we risk sliding backwards .....

        by 51percent on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 08:22:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  BINGO! GUNS should be sold via FFL dealers ONLY - (0+ / 0-)

        They are capable of doing proper BACKGROUND checks and recording the sales.

        If the law were such, none of these websites would ALLOW anyone w/out an FFL license to list.

        If you actually read, rather than  just skim and focus only on quoted text in yesterday's diary - you'd get that THAT IS THE POINT.  

        I can buy from a guy listing an AK47 online at GunsAmerica, he can ship to me via mail, meet me in a parking lot  etc  - yes, I know it isn't legal a I knew even B/4 you guys copied and pasted the law all over the comments - but people do it and that is the problem.

        That's the point. That's the loophole.

        Turns out the site we were shopping on the other night - guns America and another site we set up shop on yesterday -  along w/three other similar sites, pop up in research. You can sell, you can take a money order or arrange to meet someone and take cash, you can ship it in a nice sealed box - another subject for another diary-  or meet someone in a parking lot.  You can skirt the FFL issue - they have NO way to monitor that.

        And if you really think it doesn't happen, you aren't being realistic and I invite you to read each diary I write about this.

        Women are 51% of the population yet are represented in congress by barely 17%! Until our representation reflects the population, we risk sliding backwards .....

        by 51percent on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 08:54:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think you will find posting a firearm to a (0+ / 0-)

          nonFFL holder is illegal.  To discuss how people can illegally obtain weapons really does not advance the discussion; I can buy a county shopper and buy a gun locally private treaty from those ads much easier than going online. I really don't see why someone would violate several federal laws to buy a firearm online when they could buy one locally from the ads in the daily newspaper and be  comparatively legal or at least farther under the BATF's radar

          •  wow. I know you don't want to talk about it ...but (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            alain2112

            "To discuss how people can illegally obtain weapons really does not advance the discussion"

            Actually it IS the discussion I want to have. The online websites facilitate this and unless there are more direct laws applying to them - and quite frankly to "county shopper" or whatever - people will break the law.

            You can't list guns on Ebay -- there is a reason for that. They know they can't assure people that the laws are followed.

            And it's interesting, but I signed up to sell on another site yesterday, and the problem they all seem to have is processing payments. Many of the online payment processors won't process payments for guns, because they can't monitor the legal aspects.

            I think you are starting to get it.

            I love debate, but not when you change the subject and that's what you did yesterday. Read the diary before commenting - if it's too long or if one of us is not writing well, don't read the diary and don't comment.

            Please don't skim and make assumptions. When it comes right down to it, it appears we agree on some aspects of this.

            And by the way, if you actually read the diary and a little more, you might realize one basic mistake you keep making.

            Women are 51% of the population yet are represented in congress by barely 17%! Until our representation reflects the population, we risk sliding backwards .....

            by 51percent on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 09:23:21 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I still don't get it; only an idiot would buy a (0+ / 0-)

              gun, if that is his purpose, online, as you are proposing people are trying to do and as you propose you are able to do.  It is easier to buy one locally and a lot cheaper too with a lot less paperwork.  What percentage of guns that are obtained illegally are obtained online?  How large is this problem you think you have uncovered?

              Though it has been years since I have dealt with the BATF directly, they generally are very competent and respond very quickly to any violations of the law, esp. in the wake of 9/11.  

              If you have someone mailing you the guns directly through the US Postal Service and you are not a qualified recipient, they are violating a good many laws:
              http://pe.usps.com/...

              •  yes -it is illegal to ship - and the stats you ask (0+ / 0-)

                for are out there - I'm reading a lengthy report I am going to write about next week. I can tell you that 40% of all gun sales are done privately.  The % of guns sold illegally can't be quantified except when stings are done. Seems that an average of the results of those that I can find are over 50%, higher in many cases.

                No one is saying most LEGAL FFL sellers aren't responsible, let's face it, they need their licenses. But the idea of a private person using an FFL holder for transfer --and yes I know it's the law and you and your friends here do it-- also leaves a lot of room for the wrong people buying guns. There are many cases where copied of FFL's are given during the buying process to make the whole thing appear legal, but when investigators looked into it, the FFL holder never actually got involved in the sale.

                And once again, thanks for telling me the laws - this time about shipping - but I have that, learned more about it when I registered to sell - but the point is people break the law.

                People are legally able to set up shop online, and sell w/out a license and that opens the door to ways you can break the law.  You can't buy certain types of medications online -for example, amphetamines - ADHD meds - you CAN'T EVEN HAVE A PRESCRIPTION MAILED TO YOU - and you have to go to a licensed pharmacist to show your license, sign for them to pick them up.

                The same sort of system should be in place for any and all gun sales.

                And, BTW - one of the biggest problems is the lack of staffing of the ATF - was in the news yesterday. We don't even have a full staffed regulatory agency to monitor this. Most of the stings are now done by private groups.

                Women are 51% of the population yet are represented in congress by barely 17%! Until our representation reflects the population, we risk sliding backwards .....

                by 51percent on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 10:30:20 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  This is why we need to ban private sales (6+ / 0-)

    to do that, we need a registry. That should be one of the first things we push for.

  •  Here comes the gang to attack, no facts, no (5+ / 0-)

    discussion - they simply attack the messenger for saying something that could jeopardize their sacred 2A.

    I guess they feel that it's been long enough and they can go back to spewing NRA talking points to avoid any sensible regulation.  Last I recall, their sacred 2A does have the words "well regulated."

    Then they came for me - and by that time there was nobody left to speak up.

    by DefendOurConstitution on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 05:03:36 AM PST

    •  Interesting screen name (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KVoimakas, OldSoldier99

      for somebody complaining about part of the Constitution.

      The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.

      by xxdr zombiexx on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 05:10:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  To me the Constitution has more than 27 Words, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        51percent

        and I find it ironic that the absolutists that insist that the 2A rights trump ALL rights are the ones that call themselves "responsible" gun owners - all the while attacking everybody's right to live without fear.

        FUCK YOU!  I can understand that rights are not absolute and that regulations do not mean not supporting some rights; we have examples of this in all of our rights (even in a right that is much more clearly defined in the First Amendment).  You guys clearly cannot.

        Then they came for me - and by that time there was nobody left to speak up.

        by DefendOurConstitution on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 05:57:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Now now...settle down beavis... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          OldSoldier99

          That whole reply of yours is stupid and telle me how your mind works.

          I merely observed an amusing inconsistency and you find cause to regurgitate your petty, whiny projections and lump me with  "you guys" which I interpret to mean "2nd amendmenters or RKBA" or whatever else you lable that group of people today. Shows what you know.

          I didn't say anything about anybodys rights. Fuck you for putting words in my mouth.

          I am not a gun owner and frequently point this out. Fuck you for simply assuming that anybody who says something contrary to you is somehow part of your defined enemies.

          I haven't attacked anything and I haven't said anything about people living in fear. (I live in fear of cops ruining my life for a weed while all these people can have assault-style weapons).

          So fuck you.

          Go wash the foam off your mouth, too.

          The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.

          by xxdr zombiexx on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 06:22:04 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Unfortunately that clause isn't in the 2nd anymore (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DefendOurConstitution, BachFan

      the Supreme's have said that "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, ... " is just a cute little turn of phrase, but has no bearing on the second clause.

      And "well regulated" in the 2nd doesn't mean the same thing today as in 1791.

      •  Funy how "originalist" Scalia ignores the original (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bear83

        wording and intent.  In any case, what makes the 2A absolute and stop sensible regulations?  There is nothing saying that there cannot be regulations.  It is not infringement to require licensing/training/registration/insurance/etc.

        Then they came for me - and by that time there was nobody left to speak up.

        by DefendOurConstitution on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 06:00:04 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  because you never know when the next US civil war (0+ / 0-)

        will start.  We need to prepared to fight our government, right?
        I mean look at Syria! We could end up with the government's own militia out-arming us ... stock up now.

        Women are 51% of the population yet are represented in congress by barely 17%! Until our representation reflects the population, we risk sliding backwards .....

        by 51percent on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 09:26:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  looked into most of these guys (0+ / 0-)

      Can't find a diary any of them have posted. They don't actually read these diaries, just jump all over them.

      My focus on DK and other places has been other issues until last Friday, but gun's and their availability have been added to my own list of passions.  

      Anyone who works in an elementary school knows how vulernable teachers and their classrooms are.

      They also know about mental illness.  We've seen it at it's roots.  If the laws don't change, more children will die.

      Women are 51% of the population yet are represented in congress by barely 17%! Until our representation reflects the population, we risk sliding backwards .....

      by 51percent on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 08:59:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  When you have these weapons delivered to your home (5+ / 0-)

    take pics of them and scan and post all the paperwork. it will add detail to what you are claiming.

    I am all for closing whatever loopholes there are.

    The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.

    by xxdr zombiexx on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 05:06:24 AM PST

    •  if you are directing this to the diariest (0+ / 0-)

      I won't be buying any weapons from private people online. I don't have a FID card.

      It would be illegal for me to own a firearm w/out one.

      But the point is? I could buy one online regardless.

      Women are 51% of the population yet are represented in congress by barely 17%! Until our representation reflects the population, we risk sliding backwards .....

      by 51percent on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 09:28:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If you CAN. Do it. (0+ / 0-)

        Otherwise this reeks of sheer speculation.

        Further, you are now clearly stating these particular site (I guess) are actually functioning ILLEGALLY versus being a legal channel through which to buy severely restricted items.

        if it is legal, you have an interesting story - if it is ILLEGAL then maybe a complaint to the ATF is in line.

        I think you're kinda coasting on fuzziness indicating that you can LEGALLY buy these things in complete violation of existing laws.

        Now you seem to be saying these are illegal sites, which don't surprise me in the least.

        Fuzzy.

        Misrepresenting your case isn't needed IF you actually have a strong case.....

        The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.

        by xxdr zombiexx on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 09:52:11 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks - again read the diaries (0+ / 0-)

          The sites aren't illegal. There are many legal FFL dealers who use them. But because the law allows people w/out licenses to sell, the sites also allow private individuals to sell and it turns out many do it illegally or even legally.

          You comments -first my obligatory derisive response gotta do it to speak your language:
          "sniff sniff what is that smell ignorance of the true problems with the system, or the need to protect any and all gun sales/gun ownership as your right? Not quite reeking just yet."

          You can sell w/in the same state, as a private seller, w/out doing a background check: loophole.  I could be a criminal, contact you via an online selling site, and meet you in a parking lot etc.. you don't have to ask me for my license, do a background check. The law just says if it appears I am going to use the gun illegally, you have to refuse the sale.

          There are records and statistics out there about stings etc regarding the other ways subvert the laws using these websites.  I am going to write about them starting next week, but others already have. For crying out loud, I switched on the local news when I came home at lunch and they were reporting on these loopholes.

          I don't get it, do you want to close loopholes? Do you want all gun sales to be legal? Should we just assume that all private sales are legal?  

          Are you coming at this as one of the extreme don't-touch-my-guns-or-how-I-get-them NRA groupies or are you truly interested in making it all legal - which might add restrictions and tighten up the loose laws ?

          And finally, the ATF? Have you read anything about that agency in the past couple of days?  Please do.

          Women are 51% of the population yet are represented in congress by barely 17%! Until our representation reflects the population, we risk sliding backwards .....

          by 51percent on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 10:47:21 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Simple solution (5+ / 0-)

    no internet sales of guns or ammo, no private sales of guns. Got a gun you would like to sell take it to a registered dealer and he or she will sell it for you. And ammo sales  all have to be in person at a gun shop and handled just like you were buying Sudafed. In other words picture ID and the sale is recorded and put into a national data base.

    Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands?

    by jsfox on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 05:38:06 AM PST

    •  Try Passing That (0+ / 0-)

      You are pretty much guaranteeing a permanent republican majority, repeal of Obamacare, gutting SS and workers rights.

      As long as people are talking about banning guns there will be enough pushback from the gun community to stifle any meaningful reform.

      What needs to be done is to work within the Heller decision.  

      People who want gun control need to quit trying to ban guns. They will lose that battle and a lot of the progressive stuff we like will go too.

      What needs to happen is that we need to have national gun registration. Where every gun has a title like a car, and then before a person can take posession from a private seller they have to go thru a background check.

      Further production of large capacity magazines and sale of exsisting ones could be banned. That does not run afoul of Heller.

      Assault weapons(so called) need to be moved into the category of machine guns, where a much greater hurdle to own has to be mounted and open display and advertising of them need to be eliminated like cigarettes.

      None of this would ban anybodys ability to own a gun, but would keep criminals from getting them and also would cut down on the number of assault weapons used in mass shootings as well as cutting down on the clips.

    •  perfect (0+ / 0-)

      Women are 51% of the population yet are represented in congress by barely 17%! Until our representation reflects the population, we risk sliding backwards .....

      by 51percent on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 08:23:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is a private sale, not a sale from a dealer (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melfunction

    as you claimed in the previous diary. The problem that private sales often don't require background check is well known.

    •  if you're going to comment on a diary (0+ / 0-)

      please read it.

      Yesterday's diary was about the same thing.

      and so far the conclusion is that none of these websites should allow anyone who is NOT LICE SENSED to sell.

      NO ONE should be able to buy w/out a background check.

      I look forward to - your - next diary.

      Women are 51% of the population yet are represented in congress by barely 17%! Until our representation reflects the population, we risk sliding backwards .....

      by 51percent on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 09:03:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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