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The GAO Tried to Illegally Buy 79 Guns Online and Failed

In a recently released report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) revealed that for two and a half years, agents attempted to illegally buy guns on the darknet and clearnet. Unsurprisingly, the GAO found that illegally buying guns online proved more difficult than reports from the media—and that which Attorney General Jeff Sessions conveyed. Every clearnet attempt failed and only two darknet attempts succeeded.

At the request of Congress, the GAO started the so-called “performance audit” in July 2015 and ended it in November 2017. During the audit, agents attempted to illegally purchase guns on the clearnet on 72 separate occasions. All 72 attempts resulted in empty-handed agents. In 56 attempted purchases, the seller simply chose not to make the sale. Purchasing a gun online can be done legally through licensed gun stores and even through legal gun owners who live in the same state. The GAO wrote that for those types of transaction to be illegal, the seller would have to know that the buyer either lived in a different state than the seller or that the buyer could not legally own a gun.

The report also covered the ATF’s use of clearnet resources in darknet investigations. “For example, to identify an anonymous user on the Dark Web, the [ATF’s Investigations Center] works to establish the user’s “digital footprint” on the Surface Web,” the report explained. “In some cases, users might conduct illegal activity on the Dark Web but might then go to the Surface Web, such as a social-networking website with chat forums on a wide variety of topics, and discuss their illegal activity.” Analysts then used that information as a reference when identifying the darknet buyer or seller.

In 27 of the 72 clearnet attempts, the sellers refused to sell the agents a gun after the agents made it clear that they could not legally own a gun. In 29 cases, the seller simply objected to shipping a gun. This presumably referred to the Federal Firearms License regulations that permit online sale but require in-person contact for filling out forms. Five different attempts were shut down by the seller’s website—the GAO’s accounts literally got banned. All remaining attempts, the report said, were scams. Agents even sent money and never received a product in return.

For some reason, the GAO only made seven attempts on the darknet. Maybe they only found seven vendors that did not work for the government as undercover vendors. The GAO found some success on the darknet, though. In two of the seven attempts, agents ended up with a gun from a darknet vendor. (In fairness, USPIS actually pulled the guns from the mail stream and sent pictures to the agents.) The agents purchased an AK-47 automatic rifle and an Uzi submachine gun. The report cited a prior ATF report that found that the majority of weapon listings on darknet marketplaces are scams. Somehow, people keep falling for them.


  1. I’ve sent bitcones to many darknet priests to pray that my soul goes to heven, not hell, and I did not get a receipt. I prayed to Jesus to reported them to the BBB and letsee what, they gonna be outta business!

  2. The report cited a prior ATF report that found that the majority of weapon listings on darknet marketplaces are scams


  3. This is just what I thought when I read the Jan 11 article headlined: “Undercover Agents Makes A Successfully Purchase…”
    Apart from remarkable grammar, you can see how it is spun a whole different way.

  4. The truth is that the feds are transcending their authority under 28 usc 599a, they don’t have any business inducing people to guns. Their is no law that applies to private people selling their guns on the secondary market and avoid the statutory scheme, even in different states! They want you to believe that is true but it’s a lie. The law only applies to the Federal Firearm Licensee (FFL’s). This is 100% true, you just have to understand the law, the ATF what’s to make people believe it’s true because it makes their Jobs easier, because the fact is they only care about a paycheck. Two cases I can point to that buttress this fact. First, Abramski v. United States 2014-http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/abramski-v-united-states/

    A few noteworthy quotes by Justice Kegan;

    “Federal law has for over 40 years regulated sales by licensed firearms dealers, principally to prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands. See Gun Control Act of 1968, 18 U. S. C. §921 et seq.

    Congress decided to regulate dealers’ sales, while leaving the secondary market for guns largely untouched. As we noted in Huddleston , Congress chose to make the dealer the “principal agent of federal enforcement” in “restricting [criminals’] access to firearms.” 415 U.S.,at824. And yes, that choice (like pretty much everything Congress does) was surely a result of compromise. But no, straw arrangements are not a part of the secondary market, separate and apart from the dealer’s sale. By contrast, whether the purchaser has between those who acquire guns from dealers and those who get them as gifts or on the secondary market, we suspect, reflects a host of things, including administrative
    simplicity and a view about where the most problematic firearm transactions—like criminal organizations’ bulk gun purchases—typically occur. But whatever the reason, the scarcity of controls in the secondary market provides no reason to gut the robust measures Congress enacted at the point of sale.”

    As far as the “out of state” are concerned the truth is they have no jurisdiction and they have been misapplying federal law here to. IN Lane v. Holder 2012 4th cir Cert. denied, Eric HOlder and the US government along with the appellate court both denied that plaintiff had standing to sue because she was not suffering an injury because it only applies to people that have a CONTRACT with the government and are FFL’s.
    ” A plaintiff who alleges an injury based on restriction of distribution channels may be able to show standing if the defendant’s actions directly affect that plaintiff. For instance, the Supreme Court found that a distributor of contraceptives had standing to challenge a law barring all but licensed pharmacists from selling contraceptives. Carey v. Pop. Servs. Int’l,431 U.S. 678, 682-83 (1977). In Carey, however, the lead plaintiff was a distributor directly regulated by the law being challenged.”

    The appellate court is using sophistry and dialects to deceive the general public about the reach of the guns laws when they stated this:

    One of the mechanisms for doing
    so was a requirement that interstate transfers of firearms take place through federal firearms licensees (“FFLs”). 18 U.S.C.§ 922(a)(1)-(5). Under the federal statute, a buyer may purchase a handgun from an out-of-state source, but that source must be a FFL and the buyer must arrange for the handgun to be delivered to an in-state FFL, from whom the buyer may retrieve the gun.”

    They are misleading people because the only way the government has limited delegated authority is if it is a tax, thus regulated first sales of “firearms” at “wholesale or retail” like the law says. It does not apply to private men and women, regardless of what state you sell to someone else. I can go on and on, pointing out why this is true and violates not only maxims of law, but maxims of statutory interpretation.

    People are misled to believe we can’t dispose of our property of guns. This violates the laws of nations, and the natural rights of man.

  5. The second amendment, the due process clause of the fifth amendment, the 9th amendment and the 10th amendment. If you were forced to perform the functions of an FFL it would again violate the due process clause, the 8th amendment and the 13th amendment as well.

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