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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Minnesota: Few Online Firearm Listings Require or Conduct Background Checks

Individuals who hold federal firearms licenses are required by federal law to run a background check on buyers. However, the same requirement does not apply to private sellers.

A new study conducted by the University of Minnesota and other institutions described firearm listings on Armslist.com, an online marketplace for private firearm sales, based on whether listings requested a background check. The study authors are a student and graduates of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health who began the research as students. Their findings were recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The researchers identified 4.9 million active firearm listings dating from July 2008 to June 2018. They also counted the number of listings that specifically displayed evidence of a background check or other information that indicated that some form of a background check would be required by the seller, such as showing proof of a license to carry, a permit to purchase, etc. 

The study found:

“Our research shows that online firearms sales represent a huge potential loophole,” said study co-lead and PhD candidate Ms. Ashley Hernandez. “Individuals who would fail a background check and would be prevented from buying a firearm from a federally licensed firearm dealer would potentially find it easy to buy one in a private sale facilitated by an online marketplace like Armslist.com.” 

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