February 09, 2012 12:19 pm ET - by Matt Gertz
This morning on NBC's Today, national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen presented the results of his hidden-camera investigation exposing how simple it is for anyone — even dangerous criminals — to legally purchase firearms, including assault weapons, without undergoing a background check.
As Rossen details, "at gun stores, you have to get a background check before you can buy a weapon. But online, in most states, anyone from law-abiding citizens to dangerous criminals, even terrorists, can get just about any weapon they want, no questions asked."
Rossen's undercover investigation contacted several private sellers online and met with them in mall parking lots to complete the sales. Purchases included a tactical assault rifle and a 50-caliber sniper rifle, which can shoot down aircraft during takeoff and landing and are a weapon of choice for Mexican drug cartels. In some cases, the sellers completed the sales after the investigator informed them that he probably could not pass a background check.
NBC's report echoes a similar investigation by New York City targeting illegal online gun sales.
Rossen points out that there is legislation before Congress that would "close this loophole and require background checks for all gun sales, even online. But that bill has been sitting in committee for nearly a year." Rossen is referring to the Fix Gun Checks Act of 2011, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in the Senate and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) in the House.
Rossen also notes the gun lobby's role in stopping the bill from moving forward: "The NRA says it opposes the bill because it has 'many serious flaws,' but wouldn't comment about online gun sales. In the past, the NRA has fought background checks for any private sales."
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