WASHINGTON — Democratic lawmakers don’t like the methodology that the Government Accountability Office used to find that it’s difficult to buy firearms illegally on the internet.
The Democrats requested the report on online gun sales, but now they seem to want a new study to be conducted with different methodology.
“Well, 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,” Hawaii Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz told The Daily Caller last Thursday.
He continued, “Our view is that it is still absolutely possible to legally purchase guns online. The way that the GAO analysts did it is, they announced to the sellers, ‘Hey I’d like to buy some guns illegally.’ I think the sellers are wise enough to that to decline, so we did not agree with their methodology, but we’ll continue to work on this issue.”
In the first week of January, GAO released a report titled “Internet Firearm Sales: ATF Enforcement Efforts and Outcomes of GAO Covert Testing” commissioned by three Democratic law makers — Schatz, Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
The GAO report stated that its investigators tried to illegally purchase firearms on both the “Surface Web” and the “Dark Web.” The investigators “revealed their status to the sellers as individuals who would ordinarily be banned from buying these weapons legally,” according to the report.
“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,” the GAO said.
“Of the 72 attempts agents made to purchase firearms on the Surface Web, 56 sellers refused to complete a transaction once we revealed that either the shipping address was across state lines or that we were prohibited by law from owning firearms.”
In the other cases, the investigators’ website was frozen or they encountered suspected scammers.
However, agents for the GAO, who did not mention to sellers on the dark web they were prohibited from buying weapons, were able to purchase two firearms illegally. These guns were not only “shipped across state lines” but their serial numbers were destroyed.
Ultimately, the GAO is “not making recommendations in this report.”
“GAO’s findings showed nothing so much as that private sellers advertising online are knowledgeable about the law, conscientious, and self-policing,” The National Rifle Association said in a statement, and buying firearms via the internet are “subject to the same federal laws that apply to any other commercial or private gun sales.”
Websites like gunbroker.com and cheaperthandirt.com are popular legal online auction forums for firearm and ammunition purchases. At such sites, a buyer must present to a Federal Firearm Licensed (FFL) seller another FFL dealer in the buyer’s home state for any purchased firearm to be sent to.
Once the firearm arrives at the receiving FFL’s site, the buyer must undergo and pass a federal background check before leaving with the weapon.
TheDC asked Sen. Schatz if he took issue with these websites that operate legitimately and he stated he could not address the issue at that time.