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Armed on the Internet: Gun buying becomes easier through Social - KOAM TV 7

Armed on the Internet: Gun buying becomes easier through Social Media

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Thanks to computers.. We can pretty much buy anything online and that includes guns. Gun regulation is one of the most talked about, controversial issues facing Americans. There are laws to keep guns out of the hands of felons, but with online gun sales- it's easier than ever for anyone to purchase a gun.

Delci Rhoades loves gun buyers. She runs the gun shop in Commerce, Oklahoma. Private online gun sales not only threaten her business,  she says they threaten everyone's safety.

"We sell pistols. And you can't buy a pistol until 21 years of age. And we sell long guns and you can buy those at 18 years of age." she says.

But with a credit card and a computer it's easier than ever for anyone to buy a firearm.

"If you're selling firearms that you at least have some idea who you're selling it to. Make sure it's not somebody who's going to do something dangerous with them. That shouldn't be possessing that type of a weapon" Sheriff David Groves of Cherokee County explains.

In 1993, The Brady Law took effect. It requires federally licensed gun dealers to require background checks from individuals. Today with online private sales, that law doesn't apply.

"For online sales....when you go from buying from a dealer to buying from an individual, the regulations get a lot less stringent. In Kansas, there's no gun registration. If I wanted to sell a handgun or any type of gun to a Kansas resident, there's really no type of regulations or requirements on my part to conduct a background check or anything of that nature. As long as I'm not already aware that the person would not be exempt of any of the reasons such as being a convicted felon, have a domestic violence conviction or a known abuser of controlled substances." Groves says.

Rhoades is still counting on traditional gun buyers who want to know where their firearm is coming from, and aren't afraid to prove they're legal to own the gun. 

"These are easily concealed. And you have a lot of crime. and a lot of people that are young are out there and doing a lot of crime - break ins, and all these things, so you don't want them to have these pistols." Rhoades says.

No legislation has been drafted for regulating sales through online buying, selling and trading of guns.

Ethan and his wife Tracy are administrators the four states guns and more facebook group.

"We decided to create one group to bring everyone with the same interests together - just focused on the firearms, the fishing, the hunting, all those items into one - to make it simpler for everyone to find. Then we expanded it into the largest area that we thought was reasonable to get more people involved." Ethan says.

He says  "Our roles as the admins is to make sure the site runs cleanly...smoothly...That people don't get on there and harass each other, that other items that aren't related to the group don't get posted on there clogging up the site, so that everything keeps flowing smoothly."

The pair say they don't do background checks on those who join or buy guns, but can kick people out of the group if they post inappropriately.  The group has 8,000 members in less than a year, up to 100 new people join daily.  But gun enthusiasts aren't convinced in its safety - regardless how much the group is checked, but even advocates of gun ownership question the safety of buying firearms off sites like Facebook.

Troy Bastian is a local firearms instructor and NRA member, he says a private sale  opens a door for guns to fall into the hands of criminals.

"If I advertise a gun on a private site....That requires no background check, that requires no dealer involvement, that requires no federal firearms form to fill out...and I inflate the price of that gun by a couple hundred dollars, I feel as though I should be somewhat suspicious when someone comes and doesn't even debate my price. Who doesn't want to negotiate, who is willing to spend whatever I ask for." Bastian says.

But Ethan disagrees. He says "we provide the service of an online classified ad, and we also provide an online educational service for people who are wanting to learn about firearms, or how to trade them."

The Giertz's say online sales give more power to the both the buyer and seller.

"It's a free market economy. You buy, you sell, you post what you want, you don't like the price - you move on. On the flip side of it if someone offers you a low ball offer - you hit ignore and move on. You accept the trades that you're wanting to trade. You negotiate that amongst yourself." he says.

Bastian disagrees saying online sale puts everyone at risk.

"There's no way to guarantee you're buying a weapon that isn't stolen, which to me is a significant issue....Later if it's determined to be stolen, and you're the buyer, you not only lose the gun, you lose the money. And that's significant." he says.

Bastiain owns his own gun range outside of Pittsburg and says he will continue purchase his firearms from federally licensed dealers. The Giertz's tells us that since he began the group late last year...hundreds of sales have taken place, and they expect even more to take place this year.

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