Online Drug Haven Moves Into Gun Sales

January 27, 2012 5:33 pm ET — Chris Brown

Last December, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that an investigation into online gun sales had revealed multiple instances of illegal purchases. After examining 10 websites, the investigation found that "Seventy-seven of 125 online sellers agreed to sell a gun to someone who said he could not pass a background check — a 62% fail rate." The investigation looked at websites specializing in gun classifieds as well Craigslist, which has unsuccessfully attempted to ban firearms sales on the site.

Today, an article by Adrian Chen of Gawker reveals that the notorious Silk Road website is getting into the business of hosting online gun sales. Chen had previously reported that, using sophisticated technology to ensure user anonymity, Silk Road hosted a brazen open market for illegal drug transactions. Initially, it appeared that guns were not allowed to be sold on the website, but when Chen revisited the site he found that gun sales now seem to be common. While using the Internet to facilitate selling a gun isn't illegal, it goes without saying that a website known as the "Amazon.com of illegal drugs" could act as a magnet for illegal gun sales and trafficking.  

From Gawker:

Yesterday, Betabeat pointed out that Silk Road still exists, and is still home to hundreds of users openly trading illegal drugs using the nearly-untraceable hacker currency Bitcoins.

So I fired up my TOR anonymizing network browser, which is the only way to visit Silk Road's unusual URL, to see what was new with the site. What was new was guns: Back when we broke the story in June, Silk Road's anonymous administrator said he wouldn't allow weapons to be sold on the site. But since then, an entire subcategory for firearms has sprung up.

Chen also profiled a top gun seller on the site named "Dbush." In addition to selling illegal drugs, Dbush's business model appears explicitly aimed at helping people violate gun laws. Dbush echoed the familiar conservative emphasis on the importance of preparing for military conflict against the government, telling Gawker that citizens "should have enough firepower that the government fears the citizens":

One of the most well-regarded vendor [sic] of firearms is a user named Dbush, who sells guns from the U.S. and Mexico and has 100% feedback from over 100 transactions. (Those weren't all guns; he also sells meth, LSD and ecstasy.) Dbush's user profile on the site boasts he can procure "AK pistols, AR15 pistols, and many tactical style guns. Additionally regular style shotguns, rifles, and handguns are available."

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