Federal agents posing as illegal gun buyers failed in nearly all of their dozens of attempts to purchase guns online, according to a multiyear study that tried to examine how current firearms laws could apply to purchases over the internet, the Washington Times reported.
All 72 undercover attempts to buy guns through readily accessible internet sites failed, though agents did manage to make two buys out of seven attempts through the more restrictive “dark web,” according to the recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
“Tests … demonstrated that private sellers GAO contacted on gun forums and other classified ads were unwilling to sell a firearm to an individual who appeared to be prohibited from possessing a firearm,” the report said.
In 56 cases, sellers ultimately refused the transactions, either because they wouldn’t ship a firearm or because they ended up nixing the transaction after an agent said they had been convicted of a felony or had other issues legally barring them from getting a gun.
The agents made the attempted buys after accessing online gun ads, focusing on private sellers who posted the ads and not federally licensed dealers who are required to run a background check for virtually every purchase, it said.
In addition to the “surface web” — the standard internet universe available to most online users—agents also probed the more restrictive “dark web” for potential transactions. Out of seven “dark web” purchase attempts, agents managed to buy an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle with the serial number “obliterated,” as well as a semiautomatic Uzi that was advertised as a fully automatic weapon. Those two cases were referred to other law enforcement agencies.
The broader investigation was conducted from July 2015 to November 2017.