For Release: Tuesday, March 16, 1999
Kristen Rand, director of federal policy for the Violence Policy Center, issued the following statement today at a press conference unveiling The Internet Gun Trafficking Act of 1999:
I would like to thank Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) for taking the lead on legislation to ensure that firearm sales on the Internet comply with all gun laws.
Forty percent of guns are bought from sources other than retail outlets. The Internet is a burgeoning new source of firearms – including machine guns, ammunition, and accessories. As one site called “Guns-Unlimited” described itself, the Internet is fast becoming a “virtual gun show.”
Web sites offering guns for sale range from sites established by federally licensed storefront gun shops, to sites run by so-called “kitchen-table” dealers who operate out of their homes, to sites designed to facilitate transactions between unlicenced private individuals.
The potential problems presented by such a hodgepodge of sellers and buyers was summed up in the statement by eBay, the online auction service, when it announced it was dropping firearms from its array of offered goods. According to eBay, “current laws governing the sale of firearms were created for the non-Internet sale of firearms. These laws may work well in the real world, but they work less well for the on-line trading of firearms, where the seller and the buyer rarely meet face-to-face.”
Senator Schumer’s legislation would set up simple safeguards to prevent the Internet from creating an on-line arms bazaar. His bill simply requires that all gun sales initiated over the Internet comply with federal and state gun laws. It would also ban sales by unlicenced individuals and require that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms be notified of any web site offering guns for sale.
Our gun laws were designed more than 30 years ago in the age of the eight-track. Congress should seize this opportunity to update them for the age of the Internet.