A Democrat-backed study meant to expose illegal online gun sales shows that it isn’t so easy to make illegal firearm purchases online.
Over the course of more than two years, agents from the Government Accountability Office attempted to make illegal purchases on the “Surface Web” and the “Dark Web.”
Of 72 attempts made on the Surface Web, 56 were blocked once the agents revealed that either they were banned from owning a firearm or lived in another state. In other cases, the website locked up or the agents encountered scammers.
“Private sellers on Surface Web gun forums and in classified ads were unwilling to sell a firearm to our agents that self-identified as being prohibited from possessing a firearm,” reports the GAO.
Agents on the Dark Web, who did not mention they were prohibited from buying guns, were able to purchase two weapons illegally (of seven attempts). Upon receiving the weapons, the agents found that the guns’ serial numbers had been “obliterated.”
The study, which aimed to “assess the extent to which [the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives] is enforcing existing laws and investigate whether online private sellers sell firearms to people who are not allowed or eligible to possess a firearm,” was conducted at the request of three Democratic lawmakers who believe that private gun dealers are using the Internet to sell weapons to people who aren’t allowed to have them.
Those lawmakers are now insisting the GAO’s methodology is to blame for the ‘inaccurate’ results.
“When we send something to GAO, we allow them to do the process that they think makes sense. But we do have a disagreement with their methodology, and we’re going to go and sit down with them and discuss how to get at the problem,” said Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz.
Schatz, along with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, commissioned the GAO to conduct the study.
“GAO’s findings showed nothing so much as that private sellers advertising online are knowledgeable about the law, conscientious, and self-policing,” said the NRA, calling the GAO’s findings an “embarrassment” for gun control activists.
The report includes no recommendations. The results of the study, GAO says, “are for illustrative purposes only and are not generalizable.”