AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

The so-called Dark Web can be an awful place. Anything you can imagine is bought and sold on there, up to and including humans. While it’s not all awful–you can buy things as mundane as T-shirts and books as well–it’s important to recognize that there’s a lot to dislike about the dark web.

However, it seems some people are shocked to learn guns can be bought and sold over that same dark web.

It may not be a shock that the dark web, the online networks that aren’t readily accessible to the public, is a hotbed of illegal gun sales.

What is surprising is that almost all of the guns up for sale are available to buy legally in the U.S., according to research published last month in the journal Deviant Behavior. The study suggests that dark web customers may simply be trying to skirt local gun control regulations — and once experts understand how these guns move, they may be able to intercept and stop the trade altogether.

Looking For Answers

Most gun sales — 64 percent of those tracked in the study — were for handguns. Only four percent were for military-grade, automatic weapons.

“Instead of exotic or rare firearms, we saw handguns — the kinds of weapons someone in the U.S. could buy from stores or vendors with a license,” University of Michigan researcher Thomas Holt said in a university-published press release. “Additionally, the price points of these guns weren’t drastically different than what you’d find if you were buying legally. These observations beg the question, ‘why the dark web instead?’”

That’s because the dark web is a digital black market. Think of it as that guy selling crap out of the trunk of his car, but on a global scale. When it comes to guns, it’s no different.

However, when I read this line, I about choked.

The study suggests that dark web customers may simply be trying to skirt local gun control regulations — and once experts understand how these guns move, they may be able to intercept and stop the trade altogether.

First, of course, that’s what they’re doing. Expect, it’s not even local gun laws they’re trying to skirt. It’s all gun laws. These are guns that aren’t going to go to an FFL holder.

However, it’s a pipe dream to think they can stop the trade altogether. You can find sources for cocaine on the dark web, for crying out loud. What makes anyone think they can stop guns if they can’t stop the illicit trade of drugs via the dark web?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

The fact of the matter is that military-grade weapons have their place in the criminal underworld, but they’re not what everyone wants. It’s hard to stuff an M-243 in your pants to knock over a liquor store, after all. The dark web market recognizes this and gives people what they want, and that’s handguns.

How anyone can be surprised by any of this is beyond me.