Study: One in 11 shopping for guns online in Nevada can’t legally possess one

Nearly one in 11 people shopping for guns online in Nevada is prohibited from possessing a firearm, according to a study by Everytown for Gun Safety released Friday.

Everytown for Gun Safety, a national gun control advocacy group, researched listings for firearms on four websites: Armslist, Gunlistings, Backpage and Facebook, where private-party sellers in Nevada used dozens of dedicated pages to arrange gun sales.

The study, called “The Wild Wild Web,” evokes Nevada’s frontier history:

“Frontier days seem distant in Nevada, where the rugged landscape has recently acquired a 21st-century sheen. Cities have sprouted in its deserts. Technology companies like Tesla Motors and Faraday Future vie for the state’s workforce,” the report said. “But invisible to most Nevadans, an unregulated commerce in firearms continues. And it’s facilitated by the same digital platforms driving the economic boom.”

The websites were monitored for different amounts of time and using different methods. For Armslist and Gunlistings, all ads posted offering firearms for sale or trade were collected with a computer program on a daily basis for a year, from Nov. 1, 2014, to Oct. 31.

Listings on Backpage were collected for 80 days in the fall, and an “investigative agency” was hired to manually track posts on 27 Facebook groups for about a month starting Dec. 25, according to the study.

Everytown for Gun Safety Research Director Ted Alcorn said the reason for the differences in monitoring periods is because of the differences in how the websites work. A computer program wouldn’t be able to track Facebook like the other sites, so staffers spent eight-hour shifts manually going through posts on the social media site.

“It’s very labor-intensive,” Alcorn said, adding that despite the differences, the data were consistent among the sites.

“We wanted to ensure that we’re using the gun sale ads as a proxy for gun commerce,” he said. “You can infer a lot by looking at those ads.”

The Everytown researchers, about 10 people, identified 13,570 unique ads for firearms for sale during their study. The group used that rate to estimate that private-party sellers in Nevada would post 35,862 firearm ads to the four websites each year.

Most sellers appeared to post just one or two ads during the observation period, but a small number of sellers offered guns in higher volumes, which Everytown said might mean they were unlicensed dealers. On Armslist, six sellers posted 25 or more ads in a year — including one seller who posted 157 ads.

One seller posted 13 unique ads on Facebook over four weeks, and nine other users each offered six or more guns. These sellers accounted for 9 percent of gun ads posted by Nevadan sellers (81 of 962 ads), according to the report.

The study included an undercover operation — researchers placed ads for guns and followed up with respondents to see if they were barred from having a firearm because of convictions for a felony or domestic abuse.

Investigators posted 19 ads selling firearms for sale on the websites Armslist and Facebook from Aug. 24 to Sept. 17. Investigators received 394 responses to the ads and used information the would-be buyers voluntarily provided to identify 229 unique Nevada residents.

Ninety-eight percent of the respondents were men, ranging in age from 19 to 74 with a median age of 33.

Records examined

They then analyzed court records — any felony convictions, domestic violence misdemeanor convictions, bench warrants, protection orders, or other records that could be linked to the individual — to determine if they were prohibited the possession of firearms under state or federal law.

The group found that 8.7 percent, 20 of the 229 respondents, had been convicted of crimes that prohibited them from possessing firearms. At that rate, online gun sales from these four websites would put an estimated 3,132 guns into the hands of felons and domestic abusers in Nevada every year, according to the report.

And that estimate may be low — Everytown couldn’t examine records that would indicate noncriminal prohibitions such as severe mental illness, dishonorable discharge from the armed forces and immigration status.

Alcorn said the numbers show that criminals who would be blocked by background checks by licensed dealers and at brick-and-mortar stores are flocking to the Internet.

Background checks blocked more than 5,000 gun sales to prohibited people in Nevada from 2012 to 2014, according to an Everytown analysis of FBI data. Those denials made up 1.3 percent of gun sales, but the buyers who are prohibited made up 8.7 percent of the study’s respondents. At that rate, in a single year, just four websites in Nevada could put more than 3,100 guns into the hands of felons and domestic abusers, the study said.

The study includes some examples of prohibited possessors, such as a 23-year-old man who inquired about a handgun ad posted by Everytown. Six years ago, the man shot three people in Reno.

In another example, a 21-year-old man with convictions for possessing a stolen handgun and removing a serial number from a gun aggressively tried to buy a firearm listed in one of Everytown’s posts. A month later he was arrested with a handgun.

“The prior criminal histories that these (people) had is shocking,” Alcorn said. “These are the kinds of individuals we’re talking about.”

In every example the names of the prohibited possessors was redacted, but Alcorn said the information was passed on to law enforcement.

Everytown for Gun Safety is advocating for the passage of a November ballot question that would extend background check requirements to private-party sales, including those done via the Internet. Rather than transactions done in parking lots, the law will require private sales be conducted with licensed dealers, Alcorn said.

Gun rights groups have said the language in the voter initiative is vague and would criminalize some normal behaviors of law-abiding gun owners, such as loaning a gun to a friend.

Change in policy

Coincidentally, Facebook said late Friday that it was changing its gun ad policies. The social media site updated its policies for managing regulated goods to prohibit people from using Facebook to offer and coordinate private sales of firearms. The site’s policies already prohibit people from selling marijuana, pharmaceuticals and illegal drugs.

The new policy focuses on private or “peer-to-peer” sales of weapons, not weapons that are being sold in stores or off Facebook through online, licensed retailers. Licensed firearm retailers will still be able to post about their goods and services on Facebook while completing sales transactions off Facebook.

Monika Bickert, Facebook’s head of product policy, said the change is just the latest innovation aimed at improving the site’s commerce functions.

“Over the last two years, more and more people have been using Facebook to discover products and to buy and sell things to one another. We are continuing to develop, test, and launch new products to make this experience even better for people and are updating our regulated goods policies to reflect this evolution,” she said in a statement.

Alcorn said the move by Facebook sends an important message about corporate responsibility, but there should be legislation in place to regulate online sales of firearms.

“There’s plenty of other websites in Nevada,” he said.

To read the study online, visit:

Contact Wesley Juhl at and 702-383-0391. Find him on Twitter: @WesJuhl

NSPCA Gets Kittens From LA
Man killed during road-rage incident
Las Vegas police are looking for two men involved in the shooting death of a man outside a 7-Eleven story at Bonanza Road and Maryland Parkway on Nov. 12, 2018. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System hosts Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ
The 4th Annual Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ is held in celebration of Veterans Day at the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System Medical Center in North Las Vegas, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wildfires in Southern California
Wildfires hit Ventura County, Calif., on Nov. 9, 2018. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dedication of Nevada's Battle Born memorial
The state of Nevada on Friday dedicated its Battle Born memorial honoring 895 state residents who have died in America’s wars.
Las Vegas police and Sunrise Children's Hospital hope to prevent infant deaths
The Metropolitan Police Department and Sunrise Children's Hospital held a press conference to get the message out on preventable infant deaths attributed to "co-sleeping" and other unsafe sleeping habits. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
No serious injuries after car hits tree in south Las Vegas
One person reported minor injuries but wasn’t hospitalized after a Wednesday morning crash in the south valley.
Nellis Air Force Base keeps airmen fed
Nellis Air Force Bass airmen have delicious and healthy food items, and a variety of dining facilities to choose from. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Las Vegas police determined that a suspicious package found Monday morning at a central valley post office was not a threat.
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Police evacuated the area around the Garside Station post office early Monday morning near Oakey and Decatur boulevards.
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
Las Vegas family shares flu warning
Carlo and Brenda Occhipinti lost their son, Carlo Jr., or “Junior,” to the flu last year.
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Stadust Raceway
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Dan Blocker, who played Hoss Cartwright on the TV show "Bonanza," and the actor's passion for auto racing at Stardust International Raceway in Las Vegas during the 1960s. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal.)
Project Neon 85 percent complete
On Wednesday morning Oct. 31, Interstate 15 northbound lane restrictions were removed opening up Exit 41 to Charleston Blvd. On Thursday Nov. 1, Interstate 15 southbound lane restrictions were removed. The new southbound off-ramp to Sahara Ave. and Highland Dr. also opened Thursday, November 1. With Project Neon 85% finished the flow of traffic on Interstate 15 has substantially diminished. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Girl killed after jumping from bridge onto 215 Beltway in Henderson
Eastbound lanes of the 215 Beltway are shut down by the Nevada Highway Patrol after a female juvenile jumped from the 215 overpass at Stephanie and was struck by a FedEx tractor trailer. Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal @Vegas88s
Kristallnacht story
An interview with 94-year-old Holocaust survivor Alexander Kuechel who survived seven concentration camps and didn’t leave Germany until after World War II was over. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1 dead in central Las Vegas crash
An early Wednesday morning crash left at least one person dead and another injured. The crash was reported just around 3 a.m. at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Swenson Street. At least two vehicles were involved in the crash, one of which caught fire. Debris was scattered across the intersection as police combed the area as they investigated the scene. Flamingo is blocked in both directions between Swenson and Cambridge Street. Northbound Swenson is blocked at the intersection.
Richard Knoeppel named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year
Richard Knoeppel, an architecture design instructor at the Advanced technologies Academy, named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mojave Poppy Bees
(Zach Portman/University of Minnesota Department of Entomology) Male Mojave poppy bees exhibit territorial fighting behavior. The Center for Biological Diversity wants the bee, found only in Clark County, to be added to the endangered species list.
Clark County Schools announce random searches
Clark County School District middle and high school students will be subject to random searches for weapons under a new initiative to combat the wave of guns found on campus. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss React to Dennis Hof's Death
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss speak about their friend and prominent brothel owner Dennis Hof's death at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has died
Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 36, Dennis Hof has died. He was 72. Nye County Sherriff's office confirmed. Hof owned Love Ranch brothel, located in Crystal, Nevada.
Las Vegas police investigate suspicious package at shopping center
Las Vegas police evacuated a southeast valley shopping center at Flamingo and Sandhill roads early Tuesday morning while they investigated reports of a suspicious package. (Max Michor/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Las Vegas Metro hosts the K-9 Trials
The Las Vegas Metro K-9 Trials returns to the Orleans Arena to benefit the Friends For Las Vegas Police K-9 group.
Kingman residents love their little town
Residents of Kingman, Ariz. talk about how they ended up living in the Route 66 town, and what they love about their quiet community. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Service at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Twelve unclaimed veterans are honored at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City in Oct. 9, 2018. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas house prices reach highest level in 11 years
Las Vegas house prices are rising But so is the amount of available homes on the market Still, properties priced below $300,000 are selling fast And September was the first time since June 2007 that the median house price reached the $300,000 mark Las Vegas home prices have been rising at one of the fastest rates in the country over the past year Recent data show the market is now less affordable than the national average
National Night Out
About 100 Summerlin residents gathered at Park Centre Dr. in Summerlin on Tuesday for National Night Out. Lt. Joshua Bitsko with Las Vegas Metro, played with 3-year-old David who was dressed as a police officer. Face painting, fire truck tours and more kept kids busy as parents roamed behind them. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rural homeless issue comes to a head in Pahrump
On Sept. 12, Pahrump sheriff deputies told residents of a homeless encampment on private property that they had 15 minutes to vacate and grab their belongings. That decision might face some legal consequences. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
North Las Vegas Water Meters
Randy DeVaul shows off the new water meters that the city is installing.
Project 150 Thanksgiving 2018
About 100 volunteers for Project 150 box Thanksgiving meals for high school students and their families in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Nov. 14.
Three Square’s Maurice Johnson Talks About Food Waste
Three Square’s director of operations Maurice Johnson talks about food waste.
Parade preparation nears completion
Downtown Summerlin prepares for its annual holiday parade.
Clark County Wetlands promotes 2019 Wetland Walker Program
This year the park will be celebrating the Northern Flicker. The program is designed to teach about that bird, and encourage people to visit the Wetlands and walk the same distance the bird migrates each year.
Poet’s Walk Henderson introduces storytelling
Residents enjoy a storytelling activity.
Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County educators debate alternative grading systems
Spring Valley High School principal Tam Larnerd, Spring Valley High School IB coordinator Tony Gebbia and retired high school teacher Joyce O'Day discuss alternative grading systems. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Grandparents on the fire that killed three family members
Charles and Doris Smith talk about the night an apartment fire took the lives of three of their family members. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
New York artist Bobby Jacobs donated a sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden
Bobby Jacobs, an artist from upstate New York, has spent much of the past year creating a sculpture of two separate angel wings. He donated the sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Weather will cool slightly through the end of the week
The weather will cool slightly through the end of the week., but highs are still expected to be slightly above normal for this year. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mayor announces new public-private partnership
Mayor Carolyn Goodman announced the creation of the Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas LIFE, a public-private partnership that will allocate money to the city’s neediest.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Fall fairytale gets cozy at Bellagio Conservatory
Bellagio Conservatory introduces its fall-themed garden titled "Falling Asleep." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
What the house that Ted Binion died in looks like today
Casino heir Ted Binion died in this Las Vegas home in 1998. Current home owner Jane Popple spent over $600,000 to restore and modernize the home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Rescue Mission employees terminated
Don James, a former employee for the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, talks about the day his team was terminated. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Cupcakes at Freed's Bakery
Freed's Bakery will have Raiders-themed cupcakes available in store and for order during football season. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s fans say goodbye to Cashman Field
Las Vegas 51s fans said goodbye to Cashman Field in Las Vegas, Monday September, 3, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s owner Don Logan's last weekend at Cashman Field
Don Logan, owner of the Las Vegas 51s, gives a tour of Cashman Field before the team's final weekend using the field. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like