Customers purchase firearms online on auction site

The website functions similarly to eBay.
A gun rack sits in Target Masters, a federal firearms-licensed gun dealer located on Rangeline Road in Columbia. Online gun dealers such as Gunbroker.com use federal firearms-licensed businesses such as Target Masters to facilitate firearms transactions.

Founded in 1999, Gunbroker.com is an auction site similar in format to eBay, where sellers can list firearms, hunting gear, knives, swords, archery and gun accessories. Potential buyers, in turn, can browse the listings and bid on the items.

Buying on Gunbroker.com is simple once the potential customer has registered with the website and has previously gained legal authority to own firearms. MU Police Capt. Brian Weimer said students should understand the impact of buying firearms and know exactly why they're purchasing it.

"You should know just what you're going to do with a weapon," Weimer said. "Are you a hunter? Are you using it for self-defense?"

Selling firearms under state and federal laws requires a dealer to be a holder of the Federal Firearms License. Non-FFL holders must make arrangements with an FFL holder to take the delivery of the firearm for them rather than sending a firearm straight to the customer's home.

Target Masters employee Spencer Taber said he has used Gunbroker.com for the past five years and sees no potential issues with the site.

"I've used it myself for the past five or so years, and I think it's a wonderful resource," Taber said. "Gunbroker is essentially just an online pawn store, and I've never heard of unsafe transactions happening."

Taber said Gunbroker.com is safe because it follows all state and federal laws.

"I think the possible dangers of Gunbroker have been blown way out of proportion," Taber said. "I mean, at least we're talking about items which, in the marketplace, have trackable serial numbers. I know I'm safe because proper documentation is being employed."

Taber said he guarantees the quality of his transactions by requiring the other person involved to follow his standards.

"For the most part, any time I've used Gunbroker, I require the other person I purchase from to go through my given choice of FFL dealer," Taber said.

Family Pawn employee Adam McCollum said he and his pawnshop have used Gunbroker extensively, but not as much for buying and selling.

"We don't sell anything on there," McCollum said. "We use it quite a bit for pricing purposes though, to see what guns are actually selling for."

McCollum said although Family Pawn has often been used as an FFL holder for many Gunbroker transactions, he doesn't think they are losing business to the online market.

"We get a lot of people who order guns through them and have them ship to us for the transfer," McCollum said. "We don't lose a lot of business to it in the end, as people often prefer actually seeing our firearms in person."

Weimer said firearm purchases should be taken seriously.

"In the end you should understand what you're getting into, and that you would need training to understand how to use the firearm," he said.

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