How Criminals Can Buy Guns Illegally On The Dark Net

The government is cracking down on the illegal sale of guns on the dark net, but Vocativ found dozens still available today

(Getty Images)
Jan 05, 2016 at 6:18 PM ET

On Tuesday, Obama teared up remembering the children who died at the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, as he announced new executive action around gun control. The president’s measures would expand background checks and dedicate more resources to stopping illegal gun markets.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch has warned that gun sales are increasingly moving online to what’s commonly known as the dark net, an unregulated, anonymous part of the internet where firearm traders and buyers do business free from gun licenses and background checks.

Shortly after Obama’s remarks, Vocativ used our technology to search two dark net marketplaces, Alphabay and Dream Market, discovering dozens of firearms for sale, with prices ranging from roughly $1,000 to $10,000.

The most expensive gun being sold on the dark net bazaar’s was a Glock 17 9mm pistol for $9,500. It was available for shipping with a full crate of ammunition, including 2,000 rounds of 9mm bullets and three magazines. Customers with a little less cash could pick up a 9mm Israel Military Industries (IMI) UZI for $4,000.

A larger Vocativ analysis in late 2015 found at least six firearm marketplaces, with hundreds of available guns.

Filtering for guns both originating and available to ship within the U.S., we found 221 weapons listed, an overwhelming number of which were pistols and rifles similar to those used during the San Bernardino mass shooting, and in the Newtown massacre. Those firearms were available across six marketplaces on the dark net, including Executive Outcomes, Alpha Bay, BMG, Crypto Market, Nucleus and The Armory.

The increasing availability of firearms online has led Obama to place particular focus on cracking down on such illegal activity.

As part of his executive actions, he announced the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) had established an Internet Investigations Center (IIC), under which federal agents, lawyers and investigators have already identified “a number of significant traffickers” and led to prosecutions against individuals or groups, according to the White House.