UNDERCOVER: GAO Requests Covert Internet Firearm Sales Investigation

Last year the Government Accountability Office (GAO) requested law enforcement “covert testing” of internet firearm sales, including the use of Dark Web hidden service forums and marketplaces, in an attempt to identify potential issues. In the course of the study, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) attempted to purchase firearms from different sources on the internet, after announcing they were a ‘prohibited person’ as defined by U.S. Law.

Using Open Web (standard internet websites) outlets like forums, social media, and e-commerce sites, the investigation was unable to make a single firearm purchase. Using Dark Web marketplaces, investigators were able to purchase firearms twice, even after notifying the seller of their legal inability to buy or own a gun. The two examples included an AR15 with an obliterated serial number and an Uzi that was reportedly converted to be capable of automatic fire – both of…

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