Social Policy & Politics Program | Report

The Virtual Loophole: A Survey of Online Gun Sales

by Jim Kessler and Sarah Trumble

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How easy is it to buy a firearm from a complete stranger without a background check? In an analysis of internet gun sales in 10 states from a single website during the months of June and July, Third Way found more than 15,000 guns—one-third of which were semi-automatics—available for sale without background checks at any given moment. In 2,000 web ads in these states, buyers were intentionally seeking private sellers where background checks are specifically exempt from federal law. This report focuses on online sales in the 10 states where Senators were initially targeted but failed to support bipartisan legislation to close this virtual loophole.

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