Wednesday, January 06, 2016


At Townhall, Matt Vespa calls out what he claims was a falsehood in yesterday's presidential speech on guns:
... the president delivered remarks in the East Room of the White House on his new (ish) policies that included this whopper, which the White House Twitter account disseminated for everyone to mock:

“A violent felon can buy the exact same weapon over the internet with no background check, no questions asked”? No, Mr. President, violent criminals can’t just go online and buy firearms. That’s illegal.

Lars Dalseide of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action told Townhall, “any sale from any licensed dealer first has to go through a background check. It doesn’t matter if he’s selling the firearm at a store, online, or at a gun show. When it comes to online sales, guns can only be transferred to the buyer through a federally licensed firearms dealer -- that’s the law.”
Vespa calls this a "whopper." Others on the right just call it a flat-out lie:

But did you notice the weasel words in the statement above by the NRA's Lars Dalseide? Here, I'll bold them:
"any sale from any licensed dealer first has to go through a background check. It doesn’t matter if he’s selling the firearm at a store, online, or at a gun show...."
But there are plenty of online gun sales that don't involve licensed dealers. Many take place as a result of a site that's been called "the Craigslist for guns" --, which facilitates private sales between individuals. The New York Times reported on Armslist in 2013:
The want ads posted by the anonymous buyer on, a sprawling free classified ads Web site for guns, telegraphed urgency.

Feb. 20: “ Got 250 cash for a good handgun something.reliable.

Feb. 27: “ I got 200 250 cashlooking for a good handgun please let me know what u got.

Feb. 28: “ Looking to buy some 9 mm ammo and not at a crazy price.

The intentions and background of the prospective buyer were hidden, as is customary on such sites. The person posting these ads, however, left a phone number, enabling The New York Times to trace them to their source: Omar Roman-Martinez, 29, of Colorado Springs, who has a pair of felony convictions for burglary and another for motor vehicle theft, as well as a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction -- all of which bar him from having guns. Yet he was so determined he even offered to trade a tablet computer or a vintage Pepsi machine for firearms.

When questioned in a telephone interview, Mr. Roman-Martinez said he ultimately decided not to buy a weapon. He also insisted that a 9-millimeter handgun he posted for sale on the Web site last month belonged to someone else.

“I’m a felon,” he said. “I can’t possess firearms.”

... With no requirements for background checks on most private transactions, a Times examination found, Armslist and similar sites function as unregulated bazaars, where the essential anonymity of the Internet allows unlicensed sellers to advertise scores of weapons and people legally barred from gun ownership to buy them.
As Pamela Engel of Business Insider wrote in 2013,
People who sell guns on Armslist classify themselves as "private sellers," meaning they're not subject to the same regulations as gun dealers because they only make "occasional" gun sales. Private sellers aren't required to have a license or conduct criminal background checks on their customers.

The problem is that some of these "private sellers" are selling guns in high volume and essentially acting as dealers....
Politifact, which said yesterday that the claim in the president's speech was "mostly true," noted the following:
There is a sizeable online market for private, background check-free gun sales, according to a 2013 study by Third Way, a center-left think tank. Focusing on the website, a sort of Craigslist for firearms and accessories, in 10 states, Third Way found 2,000 ads from individuals looking to purchase guns from private sellers specifically.
How dangerous is Armslist? In July 2015, a man named Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez killed five servicemembers in jihad-linked attacks on two military installations in Chattanooga. After reports surfaced that Abdulazeez acquired some of his weapons on Armslist, representatives of the site denied responsibility -- and, in fact, claimed their site has nothing to do with gun sales at all:
The website where friends of the Tennessee shooting suspect said he had purchased guns before last week's attack denied on Thursday that it was in the business of selling weapons, saying it instead offered "a free speech forum." posted the video statement a week after the fatal shooting of five U.S. servicemen at two military facilities in Chattanooga....

"We'd like to make it clear that Armslist does not sell guns," Jonathan Gibbon, owner of the website, said in the video. "Armslist offers a free speech forum, and we routinely cooperate with law enforcement and will continue to do so in the future."

... Two friends of Abdulazeez told Reuters ... that he had purchased three guns on after returning from a 2014 trip to Jordan.
To give it its due, Armslist does require users to pinky-swear that they won't do anything illegal:

I am 18 years of age or older.

I understand that ARMSLIST DOES NOT become involved in transactions between parties and does not certify, investigate, or in any way guarantee the legal capacity of any party to transact.

I am responsible for obeying all applicable enforcement mechanisms, including, but not limited to federal, state, municipal, and tribal statutes, rules, regulations, ordinances, and judicial decisions, any applicable Presidential Executive Orders, including compliance with all applicable licensing requirements.

I will not use for any illegal purpose.

If I am at all unsure about firearm sales or transfers, I will contact the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosive at 1-800-ATF-GUNS and visit the ATF website at
Yeah, I'm sure the "I Agree/I Do Not Agree" buttons that follow are a huge deterrent to crime.

And check out the guy in the beard hat at the end of this clip. What words do you suppose are edited out of what he says? Anyone want to venture a guess? Did he erroneously suggest that this is a site you can "go to" for a certain kind of merchandise Armslist insists isn't sold on the site?

1 comment:

Victor said...

Well, in our American capitalist system anyone selling a gun illegally on this site, would be... Well, the system has ways of shutting him/her down, right?