But did you know there’s an online bazaar where private sellers hawk them, Craigslist-style?
Let The Verge and The Trace introduce you to Armslist. Their eye-opening story about the site’s rise is relevant for anyone who cares about gun violence, and the ways information and consumer goods move online.
A quick breakdown
First, some essentials:
- The site’s creators saw opportunity in Craigslist’s ban on gun listings
- It is possible to sell on the site legally — though many sales occupy questionable territory
- That’s because sellers are required to run background checks only when they’re “engaged in the business” of selling guns…
- … and separating the hobbyists from the small-time entrepreneurs isn’t easy
As you might expect, Armslist is deeply controversial. Law-enforcement authorities have linked guns recovered at crime scenes to people who’ve used it to peddle dozens of firearms.
1 key detail: The site’s legal-defense strategy is ripped right from the playbook of some Silicon Valley titans. Its lawyers invoke Section 230 of a law called the Communications Decency Act.
- That’s what protects internet companies from being held liable for information published by their users
- So the debate over the site’s fate is bigger than just guns
As the story’s authors, Colin Lecher and Sean Campbell, put it: “Seen from one angle, the battle over Armslist looks like a microcosm of the larger war over Silicon Valley power and accountability.”