A single website can help people with criminal records buy more than 25,000 illegal guns this year alone, according to a report commissioned by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns, co-founded by Bloomberg, made the estimate after a four-month study of ArmsList.com, which he called “the Craigslist for national gun sales.”
“In the digital age, convicted felons, domestic abusers and other dangerous people who are legally barred from buying guns can do so online with little more than a phone number or email address,” Bloomberg said when the report was released last week.
Bloomberg’s group found that one in 30 of would-be gun buyers posting on ArmsList.com committed crimes that should have prohibited them from possessing firearms.
“This investigation has just scratched the surface of the Internet’s vast illegal gun market–and if nothing is done, that market will continue to grow,” Bloomberg said.
The mayor’s chief policy adviser, John Feinblatt, who directed the report, said that it is all too easy for criminals to use the web to buy guns.
In Wisconsin last year, a man gunned down his wife and two of her coworkers, then shot himself, days after a judge issued a restraining order baring him from purchasing firearms.
The man found someone selling a .40-caliber semiautomatic Glock on ArmsList.com, according to the report.
Tragedies like that are possible because federal law doesn’t require private sellers — online or otherwise — to conduct background checks, Bloomberg said.
A request for comment from ArmsList.com was not returned, but the website asks users to follow federal and state gun laws and to report any illegal activity.
Bloomberg added that mass shootings — like the one at the Washington Navy Yard — will continue “until we get serious about this issue,” citing gridlock by Congress.
“This sort of senseless violence has tragically become all too common, it’s almost something people have come to expect,” Feinblatt added.
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