JANUARY 04, 2018
An investigation requested by two fierce anti-gun members of Congress to determine if firearms are purchased illegally from internet dealers has come up empty. Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren demanded the probe in the aftermath of mass shootings and the investigative arm of Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), conducted a lengthy covert operation to try to purchase firearms illegally from internet dealers.
All 72 of Congressional investigators’ attempts to purchase a firearm illegally via the surface web were unsuccessful, slamming Cummings’ and Warren’s claims that guns are easily obtained by criminal elements on the internet. “All of our attempts to purchase firearms from private sellers on the surface web were unsuccessful,” the GAO writes in an extensive report. “Our covert testing involving GAO agents attempting to purchase firearms illegally on the Surface Web were unsuccessful. Specifically, private sellers on Surface Web gun forums and in classified ads were unwilling to sell a firearm to our agents that self-identified as being prohibited from possessing a firearm.” Most of the sellers refused to complete a transaction once the undercover investigator revealed either a shipping address across state lines or a prohibition by law from owning firearms. Five of the vendors went so far as to freeze the undercover GAO accounts, preventing agents from using forums and attempting to make a purchase.
In their ardent push to ban guns Cummings and Warren, both high-profile Democrats, questioned whether the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) was enforcing gun laws involving transactions facilitated by the internet. The lawmakers asked the GAO to investigate whether online private dealers sell firearms to prohibited individuals. The probe was conducted from July 2015 to November 2017, in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. It turns out that the ATF’s Internet Investigations Center, created to investigate buyers and sellers who use the internet to facilitate illegal firearms transactions, is indeed doing its job efficiently, according to the bipartisan GAO. “The Center uses several tools to provide investigative support to ATF, which has resulted in the arrests of individuals using the Internet to facilitate illegal firearm purchases,” the GAO report states.
Both Cummings and Warren have been vocal advocates for strict gun control measures in recent years. Last year Cummings joined House Democrats in a protest against congressional inaction on gun violence. “Every year, tens of thousands of Americans die as a result of gun violence,” the veteran congressman said during the heavily publicized sit-in. “In some states, firearms take more lives than car accidents. The American people are fed up with inaction and so am I. It is time for House Republicans to treat gun violence like the scourge on our country that it is.” The demonstration took place months after Cummings praised former President Barack Obama’s executive actions to prevent gun violence by expanding criminal background checks.
Warren has also been on a longtime war path against Americans’ rights to own firearms, proclaiming that “Rambo-style assault weapons” should be banned. The liberal icon co-sponsored a 2013 law to ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. She warned her colleagues during a speech on the Senate floor last year that Congress would have “blood on our hands” if assault weapons aren’t banned. After the Las Vegas shooting that killed dozens and injured hundreds, Warren took to social media to warn that “Tragedies like Las Vegas have happened too many times. We need to have the conversation about how to stop gun violence. We need it NOW.”
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