The Government Tries to Buy Guns Illegally, and Fails
The anti-gun lobby’s use of skewed, misleading, or simply incorrect statistics has long been noted. Whether it is inflating the number of people killed in mass shooting events, or claiming that suppressors allow silent killing, those of us on the conservative right have learned to distrust the results of “studies” commissioned by the left.
That’s why it’s gratifying to hear this week that an extremely partisan “study”, designed to show that it is easy to buy guns illegally online, found that it isn’t.
As the NRA reports, “the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report — “Internet Firearm Sales: ATF Enforcement Efforts and Outcomes of GAO Covert Testing” – was commissioned by three staunchly anti-gun members of Congress. Leading the charge was Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, who was joined by Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)”.
The study consisted of responding to online adverts for guns, and including a suggestion that the “buyer” was barred from buying guns. Earlier “studies” had claimed that 62% of private sellers were nonetheless happy to proceed with the sale.
Some were sceptical about this, and their scepticism has been born out in the results of the new study, which found that precisely 0% of private sellers would be willing to sell a gun to someone they suspected of being barred from owning a firearm.
It turns out that the lure of hard cash, and even the relative anonymity of the internet, is still not enough to convince responsible gun owners to break the law.
The Myth Of The Dark Web
In a complete inversion of the scientific method, it seems that the investigators started with a conclusion, and designed a study to prove it. It’s gratifying that they failed, of course, but it’s also worth looking at the conclusion itself.
This, broadly, is that the internet facilitates illegal gun sales. To those with as little knowledge about the technicalities of the web as about guns, this might seem to be true. There has been a huge increase in the number of online ammunition stores in recent years, and technologies such as blockchain appear to make buying illegal weapons absolutely anonymous.
In truth, though, the idea that one can use the “dark web” to buy illegal weapons faces one major problem: the decency of the average American. People use bitcoins because they are worried about online fraud, not to buy illegal rifles. People buy their ammunition online because it is simply more convenient to do so, especially in rural communities.
It is, of course, possible to buy illegal weapons online. The study itself investigated the “dark web”, which it wrongly claimed is inherently “designed to facilitate criminal activity online”. Even after dropping the suggestion that the “buyer” was barred from owning firearms, the investigators were only able to buy two of the seven weapons they attempted to purchase. If you were really looking to buy an illegal weapon, you might have more success on your local street corner.
In short, though the study attempted to show that it is easy to illegally buy a firearm online, it ended up proving the opposite, much more reassuring, conclusion: that the vast majority of firearms sellers in the USA are aware of the relevant laws, take their responsibilities under them seriously, and are not willing to break them, even for hard cash.