The idea of internet gun sales has been a boogieman for the anti-gun side for decades now. It presents an image of anyone sidestepping regulations with just a click of their mouse, able to get pretty much any gun they want dropped right to their house, next to an order from Amazon.
Of course, anyone who understands American gun laws knows that’s total BS. You can order online, but it has to go through an FFL. At worst, a website like a web forum or social media platform can introduce folks who can then do a face-to-face transfer, all within the law.
Yet why is Kamala Harris, a former attorney general who should understand the law, tweeting out this over the weekend?
Guns shouldn’t be a click away for any domestic terrorist with a laptop. The new executive action I announced this week will help close the online sales loophole. As president, I will act to keep guns out of the wrong hands.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) August 17, 2019
Now, my initial reaction was that this was more of the same “online sales” bugaboo we’ve been seeing for quite some time. However, some discussion on Twitter directed my attention to Harris’s campaign website where she sets her aim somewhere a little different.
She wants to take on websites like Armslist.
In recent weeks, communities across America have been traumatized by domestic terrorism and gun violence. From Gilroy to El Paso, people are being killed, and President Trump has done more to inflame the threat than confront it.
Trump has weakened gun laws and toed the line of the NRA. He’s played coy with white supremacists and shifted resources away from countering violent white supremacist threats. He’s disgraced the office he holds, and while he didn’t pull a trigger, he’s been tweeting out the ammunition.
Take executive action to close the online gun sales loophole by requiring platforms like ArmsList.com to perform background checks.
- An estimated 1 in 5 gun purchases in America occur without a background check. In part, these dangerous sales go through because the federal government does not consider online gun markets “in the business” of selling firearms. As a result of this loophole, gun sales through websites like ArmsList.com are often not required to conduct background checks under federal law, and guns are sold with no questions asked in the 30 states without universal background checks.
- This is how dangerous people buy guns: Last year alone, over 1 million firearm ads were posted on ArmsList for gun sales that would not require a background check. In America, loaded guns should not be a few clicks away for any domestic terrorist with a laptop.
- If Congress fails to pass universal background check legislation within her first 100 days as president, Harris will take executive action to require websites like ArmsList.com to conduct background checks by clarifying that “dealing in firearms” can mean facilitating private gun sales online for profit.
There’s a problem with that, on that the Washington Free Beacon‘s Stephen Gutowski pointed out on Twitter over the weekend.
How exactly a president could take unilateral action to reclassify Armslist as “in the business” of selling firearms under the Federal Firearms Act when they don’t even sell any guns is beyond me. I also don’t understand how they could operate as an FFL, even if they wanted to.
— Stephen Gutowski (@StephenGutowski) August 17, 2019
Precisely. Armslist facilitates sales, but they don’t have any inventory themselves. They just bring two people together to make a face-to-face transfer in accordance with the laws in the state those two people reside in.
In fact, Armslist doesn’t have a federal firearms license and they’re not going to be able to get one. They’re not in the business of selling firearms, after all, and that’s kind of a requirement for an FFL.
Granted, if they’re required to get an FFL, they’ll probably start selling guns. At least, that’s what I would do.
What’s interesting is that Harris is framing this as combatting domestic terrorism. So far, there’s no indication the El Paso shooter–the one shooting currently being considered as domestic terrorism–purchase his firearm in this way. There’s no link to Armslist and any other mass shooting I’m aware of, much less one that could be considered domestic terrorism. So why this push?
That’s easy. People like Harris have a problem with Armslist because it lets people buy guns, but in a way that exists outside of government control. You’re not required to undergo a background check for a private sale between two individuals in most states, so you don’t need government permission to do so.
I wouldn’t worry, though. Harris not only is polling poorly at the moment, she also wouldn’t have that kind of power as president. You can’t make a website conduct background checks when they don’t actually sell guns with the stroke of a pen. Harris wants to use executive power, hinting once again at the absolute tyrant she’d be as president, but this would require federal legislation. I seriously doubt that would happen.
Besides, if Democrats get their way and we end up with universal background checks, that would cover it anyway. Harris has voiced her support for universal background checks before.
Apparently, she’s not very good at thinking about the impact of laws or something. Yet another reason even Democrats should consider not supporting her. She can’t even keep her gun control schemes straight.