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Prohibited Firearm Users Amass Weapons from Oregon Online Gun Market

Tuesday, April 07, 2015


As a bill that would increase background checks for gun-owners heads to the Oregon Senate floor for debate, newly released data shows more than 1,300 guns were purchased online in the state with no background check in the last year. 

An advertisement on the online marketplace armslist.com, the "Craigslist for guns," displays several firearms. Photo: Armslist.com

The investigation, by the group Everytown for Gun Safety, a non-partisan gun safety advocacy organization, found a yearly estimate of 25,000 guns are posted for sale online on four prevalent websites by unlicensed vendors in Oregon. 

“This investigation highlights something we’ve known for a long time – that the online market for guns leaves a gaping loophole for criminals and other dangerous people to buy a gun without a background check,” said Sarah Finger McDonald, one of 50,000 Oregon members of the group Moms Demand Action. 

According to Everytown’s research, gun sales online eclipsed sales at gun shows by a factor of four. More guns were sold by unlicensed vendors online in a week than at a year of Oregon gun shows. 

Read more: 64,000 People With Concealed Handgun Permits in Metro Portland Counties

“This creates a vast, dangerous marketplace, where convicted felons and domestic abusers can buy guns with no questions asked,” said Ted Alcorn, Research Director at Everytown for Gun Safety. 

Senate Bill 941 would close the loopholes that allow gun vendors to sell weapons online. Alcorn, who points to background checks as a primary measure in ensuring gun safety, advocates for passing SB 941. 

The ‘loophole’ 

In Oregon, background checks are not required for person-to-person gun sales online, opening up the marketplace to buyers who are restricted from purchasing or owning weapons, such as criminals and youth. Data revealed 5.4 percent of buyers seeking to purchase a firearm on Armlist.com, known as the “Craigslist for guns,” were prohibited from purchasing a gun. That figure is four times higher than the number of prohibited owners attempting to purchase firearms at gun shows in Oregon. 

Everytown has suggested criminals are actively exploiting the loophole. 

“It’s unconscionable that a domestic abuser, or anyone else who is legally prohibited from buying a firearm, can go online and get a gun with no background check, no questions asked,” said Portland Mayor Charlie Hales. 

The investigation, which spanned 217 days, found 22 percent of ads were posted in Multnomah County, although Deschutes County had the highest prevalence of for-sale firearm ads online with 609 postings per 100,000 residents. 
More than one quarter of prohibited gun seekers had been convicted of a domestic violence crime or was under a restraining order. 

Read the full investigation here.  


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