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EBay merchants still sell assault rifle add-ons despite ban

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AR-15s are largely illegal to promote in California. So are high-capacity magazines that may maintain greater than 10 bullets. However must you handle to get your arms on each, you possibly can reload them quicker than ever with simply $10.99 and some clicks on EBay.

That’s the promise of the “Common Journal Velocity Loader For Rifle,” a product meant to chop down on how lengthy it takes to fit ammunition right into a gun journal.

Till final week, the pace loader was out there for buy on the e-commerce platform, with free delivery from Shanghai. Fifty-nine models had already been bought.

Though it marketed the product as common, the submit helpfully included an inventory of firearms it might be used to load. That listing consisted overwhelmingly of assault rifles, together with the AR-15, AK-47, M16, AK-74, HK33, G36 and Steyr AUG. The primary picture additionally confirmed the loader getting used to fill a high-capacity journal.

That is all regardless of EBay guidelines that forbid the sale of “components and equipment for assault weapons” — a coverage {that a} spokesperson mentioned extends to “components designed for assault weapons … even when they’ll additionally match non-assault weapons” — in addition to all high-capacity magazines and any firearm elements which are banned in California.

After The Instances introduced the pace loader to EBay’s consideration, it was taken down, together with eight different product listings that the corporate decided had been in violation of its insurance policies.

Three extra listings for the very same pace loader stay on-line, with 672 models bought amongst them. (These listings don’t specify compatibility with assault weapons however nonetheless present the instrument getting used with high-capacity magazines.)

Underneath California legislation, whether or not a given gun is an assault weapon is determined by how it’s configured; the identical rifle might be rendered authorized or not with the straightforward change of a grip, inventory or different elements. Figuring out whether or not a component or accent is supposed for assault weapons, due to this fact, just isn’t simple.

In making that decision, EBay’s spokesperson mentioned that the platform weighs such elements because the “language used within the itemizing” and “how the producers market the product.”

But amid a nationwide escalation within the debate over gun management after military-style semiautomatic rifles had been used to kill a complete of 35 folks in Buffalo, N.Y., Uvalde, Texas and Tulsa, Okla., merchandise as flagrant of their objective because the pace loader proceed to slide by means of.

For EBay, it’s not a brand new drawback.

In 2019, following the same string of mass shootings in Gilroy, Calif., El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, a Instances investigation found items including assault rifle magazines, collapsible shares and bayonets out there for buy on the positioning, generally in violation of platform insurance policies.

Partially in response to The Instances’ reporting, a gaggle of Senate Democrats sent a letter to EBay’s then-chief govt urging him to extra strongly police the sale of weapons and gun equipment. EBay subsequently modified its rule from banning “merchandise that point out functionality with an assault weapon” to the present, extra expansive prohibition on “components and equipment for assault weapons.”

But virtually three years later, the positioning nonetheless hosts quite a few listings that seem to violate this stricture.

Some sellers are brazen about it.

An EBay auction for a firearm accessory is seen on a computer this month in Los Angeles.

An EBay itemizing for a pace loader reveals a high-capacity journal and lists the names of a number of suitable sorts of assault weapons.

(Keith Bedford / Los Angeles Instances)

One, the “AR-15 Tremendous Slim Fastened Rear Sight – Black,” is at present featured on EBay’s touchdown web page for “Searching Scope Mounts & Equipment” as the positioning’s fourth-highest-rated product within the class.

One other, a Thordsen-brand “Featureless AR15 Rifle Inventory,” had a beginning bid of $79 and free pickup out there in Redwood Metropolis. (It has since been eliminated.) In line with the Thordsen itemizing for the same product, “featureless” gun components modify assault weapons to be compliant with state legal guidelines, reminiscent of by changing an adjustable inventory with a hard and fast one. In 2019, EBay mentioned that featureless components had been banned.

Different listings are extra refined.

Some don’t title a selected gun, solely a class. A skull-shaped rubber loop that’s purported to make it simpler to swap out used magazines is dubbed the “AR Cranium Tactical Magazine Pull,” and a number of 3-D-printed couplers — an adjunct that connects two completely different magazines collectively — embrace “AR,” “AK” or “M4” of their title. (The M4 is a shortened model of the M-16.)

A product known as the “Lets Go Brandon AR journal coupler” ships from Costa Mesa for just below $20. EBay’s guidelines require listings for firearm components and equipment to specify the kind of gun they match, however the vendor of the “Let’s Go Brandon” coupler seems to have prevented this requirement by itemizing the merchandise within the class for comics and graphic novels. (Contacted by The Instances, the vendor mentioned EBay’s system had auto-generated the inaccurate class. He deleted the itemizing.) Different objects apparently in violation of EBay’s firearm guidelines had been listed beneath army surplus collectibles.

Two posts promoting bundle units of AR sights, grips, slings and stands don’t specify AR-15 compatibility, both, however embrace pictures of rifles that — given their detachable magazines and pistol grips — could be unlawful in California beneath the state’s assault weapons ban. (A federal choose struck down the ban in 2021 but it surely stays in power pending appellate assessment.) The Instances requested EBay about one among these listings, and it was taken down. The second stays up.

Different listings substitute technical specs for gun mannequin names. Many embrace the numbers .223 and 5.56, which symbolize the calibers of cartridges developed to be used within the AR-15 and M-16. Mark Oliva, director of public affairs for the Nationwide Capturing Sports activities Basis, advised The Instances in 2019 that “most individuals determine the .223 or 5.56 with an AR-15.” One other frequent quantity is 7.62, the usual diameter of AK-47 cartridges.

Whereas such jargon might render listings semi-opaque to these unfamiliar with weapons, descriptions of equal merchandise on different e-commerce websites lay issues out extra explicitly.

An EBay itemizing for a 10-round 5.56 / .223 journal manufactured by the corporate Journey Line makes no reference to AR-15s or M16s. However on EveryGunPart.com, a thirty-round model of the identical journal is straightforwardly labeled an “Journey Line M16/AR15 Journal.”

A TPM Arms California-legal featureless rifle

A TPM Arms California-legal featureless rifle is displayed on the market on the firm’s sales space on the Crossroads of the West gun present final 12 months in Costa Mesa.

(AFP/Getty Photographs)

So much providing a 10-round 5.56 / .223 Colt journal additionally doesn’t cite any particular weapons, but an virtually similar product is particularly labeled as being for AR-15s on GunShowMags.com.

And though an Armaspec-brand prolonged journal launch advertises compatibility with 5.56, .223 and seven.62 cartridges on EBay, the equal itemizing on Armaspec’s personal website says upfront that it’s “suitable with most AR-15 … receivers.” (EBay eliminated the Colt and Armaspec merchandise when requested about them.)

Contacted through EBay message, the vendor of the Journey Line journal, which has since been bought, mentioned they believed the product was not in violation of the platform’s insurance policies as a result of the ammunition it holds is in style with hunters and sport shooters. The vendor, who didn’t present their title, disputed the characterization of firearms, together with an AR-15 they personal and use for goal observe, as assault weapons. ” I can put a bunch of stuff on my rifles to make them seem like an assault rifle, however they may by no means be an ‘assault rifle,’” they wrote. (Underneath California legislation, placing elements reminiscent of a pistol grip or folding inventory on an AR-15 with a detachable journal makes it an assault rifle.)

Elsewhere on the positioning, The Instances discovered a 7.62 silencer entrance cap and a 5.56 suppressor finish cap. Silencers and flash suppressors are particularly banned beneath EBay’s coverage. EBay eliminated the entrance cap after The Instances introduced it to the corporate’s consideration; the suppressor finish cap has been bought.

As makes an attempt by social media platforms to police extremist content material and viral misinformation illustrate all too properly, content material moderation is a tough factor to do at scale. EBay’s consultant mentioned that the corporate has already blocked greater than 1 million listings in 2022 that violated its firearms and firearm equipment coverage.

Some EBay retailers brazenly acknowledge making an attempt to keep away from detection.

One vendor, providing .223 and 5.56×45 magazines, wrote of their itemizing: “You recognize what platform (rifles / pistol) these are for — EBay received’t let me use these phrases.”

An accompanying product picture was much less refined. The magazines, nonetheless of their authentic packaging, had been clearly labeled “AR-15 Journal.”

Another person, placing a “customized pistol grip” up for public sale, labeled the merchandise an “enforcer sort” grip “for the Chinese language model of the gun designed by the well-known Russian tanker whos [sic] title just isn’t allowed on EBay” — seemingly a reference to the Kind 56, a Chinese language assault rifle modeled on the AK-47, and Mikhail Kalashnikov, the Soviet tank commander who developed the AK-47.

EBay didn’t reply a query about whether or not there’s an inventory of particular search phrases that it screens for within the titles, our bodies or pictures of recent listings, reminiscent of “AR-15” or “Kalashnikov.” Each of the above listings had been eliminated after The Instances flagged them for EBay.

“It’s unconscionable that days after a number of mass shootings have torn communities and brought the lives of harmless youngsters and Individuals, assault rifles — and attachments to make them much more harmful — proceed to be out there on-line and only one click on away,” Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), mentioned in an emailed assertion.

It was Menendez who led the 2019 inquiry into EBay’s dealing with of assault weapon equipment that was partly prompted by The Instances’ earlier reporting on this topic.

Three years later, Menendez says the platform nonetheless isn’t doing what it must be.

“By ignoring our earlier requests to implement their insurance policies and by successfully failing as soon as once more to police their very own platforms,” he mentioned, “these firms proceed to place folks in danger.”