Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Private Sale Loophole?

First there was the oxymoronic "gun show loophole". Now thanks to America's richest mayor we have the equally moronic "private sale loophole."

In a press conference held today to announce a new "report" entitled "Point, Click, Fire: An Investigation of Illegal Online Gun Sales", New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched a full frontal attack on private gun sales and Internet classified sites. In a scene reminiscent from his earlier "investigations" involving gun shows, Bloomberg's private investigators trolled 10 websites and called 125 private sellers. The sites included Craigslist (which doesn't allow firearms classifieds),, and Supposedly, 77 out of 125 sellers agreed to sell a firearm to someone who self-identified as a prohibited person.
The Investigation

The City hired licensed private investigators supervised by the global investigative firm Kroll to conduct a series of online purchases. Investigators captured audio of telephone calls with private sellers who advertise on websites, and used concealed cameras during in-person interactions. The investigative team placed telephone calls to 125 private sellers who posted online gun advertisements on 10 websites in 14 states, including Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Mexico, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The Results

A clear majority of the sellers – 77 of 125 private sellers – failed the integrity test by agreeing to sell to a purchaser who said he probably couldn’t pass a background check.

Private sellers on Craigslist failed the integrity test at the highest rate, despite the fact that the site says that it prohibits the listing of weapons on its server. On the five websites where investigators contacted the most sellers, an illegal sale was agreed to: 82 percent of the time 78 percent 77 percent 67 percent 54 percent
Given these were private detectives and not commissioned police officers, I wonder about the legality of recording either the phone calls as well as the face-to-face transactions. Many states - and I don't know if the states in question were chosen to avoid this - forbid the recording of conversations unless both parties are aware of it and this goes double for videotaping. These are the same laws being used against the public when they record police encounters that go wrong.

Bloomberg's report is pushing the following recommendations:

• Federal law should require a background check for every gun sale. Legislation now pending in both chambers of Congress – The Fix Gun Checks Act of 2011 (S.436/H.R.1781 (112th Congress)) – would enact this reform.

• The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives(ATF) should improve enforcement of existing laws. ATF should conduct undercover investigations on a variety of websites, track whether guns recovered in crimes were originally sold online and offer online tutorials to train sellers and buyers on federal gun laws governing online sales.

• Websites should adopt tougher protocols to deter crime. Websites that permit gun sales should demand transparency from sellers and buyers, facilitate reporting
of suspicious behavior by site users and swiftly remove prohibited listings.
The report also brings in the shootings on the campuses of Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University. As has been reported before, the shooter at Virginia Tech purchased one of his pistols over the Internet. However, and this report downplays it, the pistol was shipped to a FFL in Virginia, the shooter then filled out an ATF Form 4473, and then a NICS check was run.

As unfortunately is to be expected, the mainstream media is lapping this up. The story was aired on ABC News as the number two story of the day. It was introduced by Diane Sawyer with her most concerned look and was uncritically reported by Pierre Thomas who hung on Mayor Bloomberg's every word.

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While I don't expect the Fix Gun Checks Act of 2011 to go anywhere in this Congress, any move made by Mayor Bloomberg and his Illegal Mayors is to be watched. Unlike the rest of the gun prohibitionists, Bloomberg has the money and the business acumen needed to have an impact on gun rights and firearm ownership.


  1. Federal Gun Law? Didn't Duh Mayatolla cry 'States Rights' regards Federal Gun Laws with regards to HR 822?

  2. I wonder what NYC taxpayers think about this little tidbit:

    The $290,000 effort — the latest in a series of city-sponsored sting operations targeting out-of-state illegal gun sales — took private investigators hired by the city far beyond New York's borders.

    290 grand, as down payment on The War on Craigslist.

  3. Clearly the way to stop these illegal sales is to make them more illegaler.

  4. The thing that struck me as I was listening to the obviously carefully chosen and edited clips was that it sounded like at least half of the sellers thought the 'buyer' was joking. One even said "Well if you shoot someone I'll have to shoot you with my other gun."

    Then there was a run-in a friend of mine had with city cops who were "cracking down" on underage drinking. He was heading into a liquor store when a young-looking girl offered him $20 if he'd buy her some booze. So he took the money, made the purchase and went back out where the girl asked for the bottle and he asked to see her ID. She said she didn't have any and he said "Sorry, it would be illegal for me to give you this alcohol" and started to walk off, which was when the cops swooped in. Boy were *they* pissed!

    Anyway, listening to these calls made me wonder how many sellers were planning on showing up with a cop in tow to bust the illegal buyer?

  5. What I found interesting is that North Carolina was NOT on the list. As of Dec. 1st, when HB 650 went into effect, operations such as Bloomberg did would be illegal in this state.

  6. How much credibility can you lend to so called undercover investigators who lie as a matter of both practice and employment?

    "A clear majority of the sellers – 77 of 125 private sellers – failed the integrity test by agreeing to sell to a purchaser who said he probably couldn’t pass a background check."

    Failed the integrity test? Didn't this information allegedly come from people who were paid to lie in order to get information? If they're willing to lie and so good at it as to be able to dupe people into saying what they want can they really be trusted?

  7. I am reminded of the "Gleiwitz Incident" which the Nazis used as an excuse to invade Poland in 1939.