Federal investigators couldn't buy guns illegally through legitimate websites
unable to purchase firearms illegally via online websites. In at least
11 cases, sellers attempted to scam the investigators with 5 actually
receiving money but never delivering the promised firearm. 56 attempts
were foiled when the seller refused to act illegally and the remaining 5
were stopped when website administrators shut down the investigators’
accounts for suspicious activity.
The investigation specifically targeted online sales by
private sellers who do not have a federal firearms license and, in most
states, aren't required to perform background checks on potential
buyers. The investigators wanted to see if private sellers on otherwise
legitimate online gun forums and marketplaces would break federal law by
knowingly selling firearms to somebody who isn't allowed to buy them.
"The purpose of our Surface Web purchase attempts was to
determine whether private sellers would knowingly sell a firearm to an
individual prohibited from possessing one, as outlined by the Gun
Control Act of 1968 (GCA)," Bagdoyan and McElrath said in their report.
"Our agents used one of five scenarios based on a provision of the GCA
when attempting to purchase a firearm. The scenarios involved overtly
explaining why our agent was prohibited from possessing a firearm."