Yesterday I published a diary about buying guns via an online gun marketplace website and how easy it seemed to be to join the site, sign up and buy guns without a background check or sell guns without a Federal Firearms License.
Despite angry comments by gun supporters claiming my diary was misleading, a little more research shows that there are well-known legal issues and loopholes in gun laws regarding the purchase of guns online.
There are many ways to buy and sell guns online so I am going to break this down into a few diaries over the next few weeks. Guns can be purchased via classified websites, auction websites and listing sites. There issues with shipping and payment and the transfer of guns. Criminals and even honest people who don't want to be subject to background checks or don't want their guns registered in certain states, can subvert the law. The research is interesting and frightening at the same time.
Amid discussion about guns following last week's massacre of school children in Newtown, CT, a lawsuit has been filed against Armslist, a website that lists guns for sale.
On April 13, 2011, Jitka Vesel, 36 years old, was shot and killed by a man who admitted to stalking her for 2 1/2 years. According to NBC Chicago, after finding and mapping her address on the Internet, Dmitry Smirnov glued a tracking device to Vesel's car:
...that tracking device led him to the Oak Brook parking lot, outside the Czech Society of America, where Vesel was attending a meeting.Last Wednesday, a lawsuit was filed against Armslist, the website Smirnov used to buy the gun he used to kill Vesel. According to The Daily Beast:
Authorities said Smirnov waited for Vesel and shot her when she walked out to her car, hitting her in the body and head.
"Vesel’s family and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a prominent gun-control advocacy group, filed a lawsuit against Armslist for negligence in allowing Smirnov to purchase his weapon. The suit claims Smirnov bought the gun illegally: private sellers are restricted to selling guns in-state only; Smirnov was an immigrant from Russia living in Canada when he bought the gun.At a time when so many in this country are looking for ways to stop gun violence, this suit addresses the growing concern about loopholes in online gun sales.
The Brady Campaign, represented by Jonathan Lowy, director of the campaign’s Legal Action Project, says this is the first lawsuit against an online gun site for causing a shooting.It is a step in the right direction, at the right time:
Gun control advocates say potentially taking down Armslist is a crucial piece of the complex task of narrowing what they say is a massive loophole that allows criminals to buy guns from private sellers without being background-checked.
John Feinblatt, the chairman of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, says the lawsuit is a “natural progression” as pressure to stop gun violence mounts.
“These cases are important because they stress that we have a background check system that’s like Swiss cheese,” Feinblatt says. “We have a very credible background check system that prevents thousands of people from buying guns illegally, but if we continue to have these gaps in the system, it just won’t work.”
The plaintiffs in the Vesel case are suing for an unspecified amount in damages—but her family and friends say they are primarily seeking justice for Vesel.