I brushed past this topic real briefly once before, but in light of the fact that the shooter at NIU bought some Glock magazines from the same dealer that sold the VA Tech shooter his Walther P22, I wanted to address the misconceptions about internet gun sales, and the sale of ammo and accessories over the internet.
Myth 1: You can buy a gun online and have it shipped directly to your house.
Pretty much not true. If you go to a website like Gunbroker.com and purchase a firearm, that gun must be shipped directly to a Federal Firearms License holder in accordance with federal law. Then, that FFL holder is going to run a background check on you before he can legally transfer the gun from his possession to yours. There’s no “Internet loophole”, and there never has been.
There are two types of “guns” that can be shipped directly from one individual (or company) to another individual. These are guns made before 1899 and black powder firearms. Neither pre-’99 guns or black powder guns are viewed as “firearms” by federal law, and thus do not need to involve an FFL holder. A third class of guns, Curios and Relics must be shipped to either an FFL holder, or a holder of a Curio & Relic FFL license.
Myth 2: You can buy automatic weapons on the internet.
This is sort of true, in that it is possible to go to an auction site and purchase an automatic weapon; but that purchase is still subject to all the applicable federal laws that would normally go with the purchase of an automatic weapon. Which means the $200 transfer fee, the background check, and the outrageous prices usually associated with purchasing transferable machine guns.
This is also true about the purchase of silencers and other NFA regulated items. You can purchase them online, but the same National Firearms Act rules apply on the internet as in meat-space.
Myth 3: You can buy armor piercing handgun ammo online.
Also not true. Armor piercing handgun ammunition is pretty much illegal, and heavily regulated by the BATFE.
When you get down to brass tacks, I think the biggest problem that a lot of people have is that the internet is some kind of online Wild Wild West show where people are running around buying automatic weapons and federal and state laws do not apply. It’s just not true; federal and state laws apply to all firearms related transactions, even over the internet. If you’re not 18, you can’t buy ammo online, you can’t ship guns straight to your house, and you can’t buy otherwise illegal firearms.