In an extremely misleadingly labelled piece of legislation, Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) recently introduced “The Accountability for Online Firearms Marketplaces Act.”
“It’s time to start holding accountable those who turn a blind eye to illegal gun sales on their [online] platforms,” said Feinstein. “The only way to reduce the scourge of gun violence plaguing our communities is to close loopholes that allow prohibited people to obtain guns.”
Under the proposed bill, websites that have firearms advertised for sale could be held accountable for any crimes committed by people who use these firearms, even if the websites obeyed all existing laws. This includes websites that do nothing more than share ads; for example, the bill specifically mentions Armslist, a website that displays classified ads for firearms, ammunition, and shooting accessories.
“Online gun marketplaces fail to take common-sense safety measures to prevent illegal gun sales on their platforms,” said Whitehouse. “There is no reason why a retailer should be allowed to evade responsibility simply because they operate online. It’s time to close this cyber loophole and protect against more unnecessary suffering.”
There is no “cyber loophole” with firearm retailers.
“Senator Feinstein and the other senators present an uninformed and incomplete view of how online firearm sales are completed,” said Mark Oliva, director public relations for the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). “Senator Feinstein’s depiction that firearms can be ordered online and delivered to customers directly just isn’t true.”
All firearm sales involving an actual firearms dealer, whether initiated online or conducted at a retail location, must also include a face-to-face transfer with a federal firearm licensee (FFL). When an online purchase is arranged with a gun dealer, if that dealer is not located in the state where the purchaser lives, the firearm is sent to an FFL in that state, which must, by law, have the buyer complete the required ATF Form 4473 and present an official photo identification. The retailer then calls FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to see if the buyer is a prohibited person. There are no exceptions for retail firearm sales.
The statements made by the previously mentioned senators are similar to those made by former President Barack Obama (D) in 2019. At the time, Obama was speaking to a technology conference held in Brazil. He said, “Anybody [in the United States] can buy any weapon, any time whether or not, you know, without much, if any, regulation. They can buy it over the internet. They can buy machine guns.”
Obama’s statement made it sound as if anyone can go online and, with a few clicks, have a “machine gun” delivered to their door. This is simply untrue, and illegal at many levels.
As NRA-ILA noted in 2018, “In yet another embarrassment for the gun-control lobby, a government investigation of online gun sales designed to determine ‘whether private sellers would knowingly sell a firearm to an individual prohibited from possessing one’ determined that … no, actually, they would not. In 72 attempts undertaken over 2½ years, undercover agents trying to buy guns through readily-accessible Internet sites failed exactly 100% of the time to complete a sale when the seller had reason to believe the buyer was prohibited or lived in another state.”
The Government Accountability Office did this investigation, which was commissioned by three staunchly anti-gun members of Congress, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
Once again, anti-Second Amendment politicians are blaming law-abiding individuals, and businesses, for the actions of criminals in an attempt to further erode our rights protected under the Second Amendment.