Science and Tech


Reddit Gun Market Highlights Federal Law Loophole

A subreddit on the forum hosts an active gun market, but it's just one of many sites that add anonymity to private sales.
Posted at 10:31 PM, Jan 08, 2014

​The free flow of firearms has entered another corner of the World Wide Web. That's Reddit.

The forum of 100 million monthly unique users is mostly dedicated to reading and voting on news content and just cool stuff in general.

But an article from the left-leaning Mother Jones casts a spotlight on a  subreddit for buying and selling guns. At least 100 of those are assault rifles emblazoned with the Reddit logo, which the website told an Arizona manufacturer it could use.

Mother Jones counts 159 gun transactions in the past six months, though many more might have taken place in private messages. And most of these are private sales, which means federal law requiring a background check does not apply.

Now, much of the coverage on this seems to vilify Reddit itself, though it's not clear how that subreddit is any different from the active gun market on Instagram or pretty much any other online forum that lets sellers show off their wares. (Via Gizmodo, Instagram)

Online gun sales add that extra layer of anonymity for gun sellers that makes gun control advocates more than a little uneasy. There are laws that restrict purchases across state lines, so online markets aren't quite the free-for-all that they originally seem.

Still, a 2011 undercover investigation by the City of New York found that 62 percent of private gun sellers online agreed to sell a gun to a buyer who said he "probably couldn't pass a background check."

And that kind of system of anonymous sellers and buyers transferring weapons without a background check required is exactly the kind of thing the White House wanted to end with a universal background checks law — like the one that failed last year. (Via The New York Times, C-SPAN)