In an effort to halt the sale of firearms over the Internet, President Bill Clinton announced on Saturday the launch of the “eZ Check” firearm license verification system on the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) Web site.
Designed to prevent criminals and juveniles from using fraudulent licenses to buy firearms, eZ Check will allow gun dealers to quickly verify that licenses presented to them are valid.
Speaking during his weekly radio address, Clinton pointed to statistics that show there are over 4,000 gun-related sites online and over 80 sites where firearms can be purchased at auction.
“Clearly, we must do more to ensure that every sale over the Internet is legal and that no one uses the anonymity of cyberspace to evade our nation’s gun laws,” Clinton said.
Gun dealers are only allowed to ship weapons to other licensed dealers and are required to obtain a copy of a firearm license before making a shipment. However, the law does not require dealers to verify the validity of licenses before making a sale, and some individuals have taken advantage of the loophole by presenting fictitious licenses to dealers.
The new system allows dealers to log on to the eZ Check Web site and answer a series of prompts about the buyer’s license. If an answer provided does not match the information in the AFT’s database, eZ Check will instruct the user not to complete the sale and to contact ATF’s National Licensing Center.
“By making it easier to check the validity of gun licenses, we’ll make it harder for guns to fall into the wrong hands and give law enforcement and the gun industry a new tool to put a stop to illegal gun sales,” Clinton said.
Clinton added that the ATF is also proposing a new regulation that would ultimately make this authentication process a mandatory requirement.
Gun Lover’s Paradise
The Internet has made it easy for hunters, gun collectors, law enforcement agencies, and the unscrupulous to easily purchase guns without battling through the red tape that accompanies such transactions in the real world.
“Recently, we saw stark evidence that the Internet is fast becoming a new outlet for illegal gun sales,” Clinton said. As evidence he cited the case of two 17 year-old high school students in Montclair, New Jersey who purchased at least four handguns through online auction house GunBroker.com, using a falsified dealer’s license — reportedly also obtained via the Net.
Even without falsified licenses, the Web makes it easy to obtain weapons. A reliable source within the Baltimore County Police Department told the E-Commerce Times of a sting conducted by the department, in which an undercover officer succeeded in buying a gun online without having to go through the waiting period or submit the paperwork mandated by the state of Maryland.
The gun seller has been charged with the illegal transfer of weapons.