Thousands of guns sold illegally online: mayors group

Thu Dec 12, 2013 6:45pm EST
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By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Thousands of guns are being offered for sale illegally by unlicensed firearms dealers on a single website in the United States, according to a report released on Thursday by Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

The group, founded and largely funded by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, examined sales on, a major gun-trading website that enables sales in all 50 states, over an eight-week period this year.

Nearly a third of the ads posted were from "high-volume" sellers who lacked the federal license required of individuals who regularly sell firearms.

Private sellers are generally allowed to legally sell a gun through an online advertisement without checking the buyer's criminal record and mental-health history, although the rules governing such sales differ from state to state. Anyone engaged "in the business" of selling guns is required by federal law to have a license and to perform background checks on buyers.

The mayors group, based on its sample, estimated that nearly 240,000 guns would be advertised on the website in a year by high-volume sellers posing as private sellers who will not necessarily require a background check.

"These findings tell us that law enforcement, legislators and web sites all need to take steps to choke off this potentially deadly stream of illegal firearms sales," Bloomberg said in a statement.

He noted that the report was being released just two days before the nation marks the anniversary of the tragedy at a Connecticut elementary school, where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults.

"Nothing has changed in Washington since Newtown," Bloomberg said.   Continued...

Relatives of victims of gun violence hold photographs of their loved ones during a Mayors Against Illegal Guns press conference and rally on Capitol Hill in Washington September 19, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Cameron