Internet is Home to an Arms Bazaar with Guns for All—Even Felons

Thursday, April 18, 2013
Gerard Toolin (photo: East Providence Police Department)

The Internet is a great place to purchase firearms, especially if the buyer is a convicted felon. That’s why gun-control advocates are pushing so hard for expanded background checks on gun purchases, including those made online.


Under current law, literally any adult can make a deal online to buy a weapon—anything from a handgun to a semiautomatic rifle.


The New York Times spent months examining advertisements on one of the Internet’s leading gun sites: The newspaper identified more than 170,000 gun ads on the “sprawling” site, nearly all of which (94%) were posted by “private parties,” who are not required to conduct background checks.


On Wednesday the Senate rejected a proposed law that would have required background checks through federally licensed dealers on all Internet and gun show sales despite the fact that 56 senators voted for it and only 44 voted against.


Such a restriction might have prevented Armslist advertisers like convicted felon Omar Roman-Martinez from attempting to purchase a handgun through the site, or Gerard Toolin, a wanted fugitive from Rhode Island, from trying to buy an AK-47 assault rifle online.


Does the fact that it is illegal for felons to buy guns dissuade online weapons sellers from conducting such transactions? A 2011 New York City undercover investigation into website gun sales found that 62% of online sellers didn’t care, and agreed to make the sale anyway.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Seeking Gun or Selling One, Web Is a Land of Few Rules (by Michael Luo, Mike McIntire and Griff Palmer, New York Times)

Senate’s Gun Control Compromise: Will the New Restrictions Even Make a Difference? (by Colby McMurry, NinerOnline)

Obama Considers Making it Easier to Sell Firearms Abroad (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)    

Drug Cartels Love Houston Gun Shops (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


simon_tpd 11 years ago
I notice you used the terms "attempting to purchase" and "trying to buy". Is that to suggest that both were unsuccessful? I have to assume it is since you neglected to clarify. So my question would be "What's your point?".
yarply 11 years ago
Is this news, editorial, commentary or propaganda.
yarply 11 years ago
Give it a break on the felon thing. These people served the time required by law and have thus paid for their crime(s) If they are such a threat either keep them in jail or execute them. Everything is a felony now days. What part of shall not restrict do people not get.

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