U.S. mayors say thousands of guns sold illegally online

Thu Dec 12, 2013 9:29pm 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 U.S. website, according to a report released on Thursday by a group of U.S. mayors campaigning for gun control.

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

It said 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 sell a gun legally online without checking the buyer's criminal record and mental-health history, although 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.

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

"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 anniversary of a mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in which a gunman killed 20 children and six adults.

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