Saturday, February 16, 2008

Ordering Guns Via Internet

Web site used to buy gun accessories by Steven Kazmierczak is owned by the same company that operates a site patronized by Seung-Hui Cho, the company said.

Kazmierczak ordered two 9 mm Glock magazines and a holster for a Glock handgun from the Web site February 4, said a statement released by TGSCOM Inc.

He received them February 12, two days before the NIU shootings, it said.

"TGSCOM Inc. also operates the Web site used by Seung-Hui [Cho] to purchase a firearm used in the Virginia Tech shootings last April," the statement said.

Cho killed 32 people before turning a gun on himself in that incident.
Once more, I am amazed that anyone can order a firearm over the internet! How stupid can we get? Anonymity is the name of the game when you have decided to end your own life and take as many others with you as you can in a few minutes. What easier way is there than to order a weapon via online shopping? Once more, you've got to be kidding.


tom said...

He didn't buy a gun over the internet. He bought accessories, in this case, 2 magazines. The only way to buy a gun over the internet is to have it shipped to a federally licensed dealer, who completes the federal background check in person.

toothdigger said...

"TGSCOM Inc. also operates the Web site used by Seung-Hui [Cho] to purchase a firearm used in the Virginia Tech shootings last April," the statement said.

I appreciate your comment. Obviously, you know more about this than I do. I am still a bit confused. How then did Seung-Hui purchase his firearm that he then used in his VA Tech shootings last April? I suppose the background check was done, yes? But found nothing that would indicate he was a danger to self or others? Yes?

tom said...

The law (federal law) is that any transfer of a firearm must be accompanied by the FBI (NICS) background check. The general practice is that a dealer or manufacturer who sells firearms or receivers (which are considered firearms under federal law) through the mail, catalog order, or internet must send them to a local federally licensed (FFL) dealer (local to the purchaser). The details on the purchaser are sent to the local dealer, who contacts the purchaser when the firearm(s) arrive. There, the local dealer completes the federal and any mandated state background checks and other requirements (such as a local waiting period, if applicable), charging a modest fee (typically $15-$25). Assuming the background check comes back clean, and any other federal or local requirements are satisfied, the dealer then releases the firearm to the purchaser.

Cho used this process, and did the NICS process with a local Virginia FFL dealer. His court history (the order to mental health treatment) was not reported by Virginia to the feds.

TGSCOM's website is the top hit on Google if you search for "Glock accessories" and one of the top 5 hits if you search "Glock". Glocks are probably the most commonly sold semiautomatic pistols in the United States to both law enforcement and private citizens. It honestly doesn't seem that remarkable, given the way that the e-commerce tends to create something of a "national marketplace", that this one website probably does a relatively large volume of the web's business in Glock accessories.

toothdigger said...

Again thanks Tom. I so appreciate your perspective.

I am most obviously not a gun enthusiast despite being a 53 year old woman who loves to play GOLDEN EYE. That's the only Glock weapon I've ever "carried."

I find it extraordinary that just the desire to purchase such a weapon does not alarm people, especially when the person is under 30 and attends a public university. I realize that it is extremely controversial to use "profiling" but it seems to be more a use of common sense.

Perhaps firearm dealers should not be allowed to sell automatic weapons to anyone.

Ah, that's gun control, isn't it? And, this seems to be a rather unpopular idea.

tom said...

If by "automatic weapons", you mean machine guns, those are already strictly controlled by the Feds, and have been since 1934. Getting one of those means about 3 months of background investigations by the BATF, a $200 tax stamp, having the weapon etched with your name and an registration number, and not being allowed to take it across state lines without permission from the BATF. Some states don't allow them at all. There's a common conflation of "automatic" weapons (machine guns) and "semiautomatic" (single-shot) weapons.

Well, in general, it's a controversial issue. And there's not much trust or good faith on either side, which makes compromise very difficult. I've actually wondered if the Supreme Court case coming up next month on the 2nd Amendment (District of Columbia v. Heller) might, paradoxically, open up the opportunities for some sort of reasonable compromises if they do rule that there is an individual 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms. If that were established by the Court, it might cool the tenor of this debate a bit and make more compromise possible.

toothdigger said...


I meant 'semi-automatic' weapons, actually; not machine guns.

I saw on ABC News that there is a group of students in Utah (and probably elsewhere) who want to carry concealed weapons on campus in order to protect themselves.

I can't imagine that having more people carrying semi-automatic weapons is going to make our 'children' safer on university campuses.

By the way, if it takes 3 months to get a machine gun, why doesn't it take 3 months to get a semi-automatic weapon? Seems to me, with the changes in technology since 1934, we would have realized that semi-automatic weapons are just as deadly and inappropriate for the 'general public' as machine guns must be.

Thanks again, Tom.

tom said...

Actually, the technology hasn't changed all that much. Semi-auto means one trigger pull, one shot. Most of the engineering of a semi-auto action of the type used today was done by John Browning around the turn of the century. There have been a few changes (different calibers in common use, the use of composite materials in manufacture), but the basics aren't that different. Semi-autos have become more common (and cheaper) than revolvers, particularly since the 1980s.

Machine guns themselves are useful, as weapons, really only in a military sense. (I served four years in the Marine Corps here, so I speak from some experience) They are used defensively for "grazing fire" (laying down an "impact area" of fire such that anyone who passes through that area is likely to get hit) or offensively for "suppressive fire" (laying down a base of fire to force defenders to keep their heads down so that a "maneuver element" can outflank them). We used to call the SAW, which is a light machinegun used at the fire-team level, basically an expensive noisemaker, designed mostly to scare people (suppressive fire).

The reason that there is a debate on concealed carry on campus is that college campuses are in most states, by law, "gun-free zones", and are probably among the largest and most densely populated such areas commonly found. Thus, when something like this happens in one of these places, so the logic goes, there isn't anyone who might be able to put a stop to one of these rampages, and thus the result is a body count in the dozens. I don't think, or at least I haven't heard, anyone advocating just any 19-year old college kid being given a gun. The proposals are that students, or faculty, who already have concealed-carry permits be allowed to carry. Some of us also served in the military or in law enforcement prior to going to college.

Anyway, that's the debate, I guess. Obviously, there's a lot of room for fine distinctions or disagreement over this issue. I personally think that carrying concealed is a huge responsibility, and requires a substantial commitment of both time spent in training as well as psychological responsibility. It definitely isn't for most people out there.

toothdigger said...


Your last paragraph says it all, in my opinion. Carrying a concealed weapon does seem to me to be a huge responsibility and one not to be taken on lightly. I am not sure that most of the young persons that I know would be capable of using a gun wisely, especially under duress.

I would hope that training would be mandatory.

Again, thanks for your comments.