Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

THE GREAT LONDON GUN CRIME CRISIS; - Meanwhile Internet Helps to Put More Weapons on the Street

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

THE GREAT LONDON GUN CRIME CRISIS; - Meanwhile Internet Helps to Put More Weapons on the Street

Article excerpt

Byline: BEN LEAPMAN

A NEW warning was sounded today over the sale of guns on the internet.

An investigation found dozens of weapons for sale on auction website eBay, in clear breach of its own rules. The discovery follows a warning from the Metropolitan Police that criminals are increasingly able to obtain guns.

An MP claimed he found 24 guns advertised on eBay's UK website over four days. Labour's Steve McCabe urged the Government to clamp down on the trade.

Some advertised guns were deactivated weapons which could be converted by experts to fire live rounds.

Others were replicas of the kind favoured by armed robbers. One man selling a legal airgun boasted that it could be readily converted into a lethal weapon at three times the legal power limit.

While airguns and replicas can be bought and owned legally by adults without a firearms licence, eBay claims they are banned from its website.

But a company spokeswoman conceded: "We have over 30 million items on the site at any one time. We track down illicit items as quickly as we can, but an item may be up for a very short time before it is removed." She added: "eBay is determinedly opposed to gun sales."

Sellers on eBay post auction details The company uses word-filtering software to prevent obvious abuses but some banned items slip through the net. Campaigners warned that teenagers, who cannot buy airguns legally, could obtain them readily on eBay.

Mr McCabe presented Home Secretary David Blunkett with a dossier regarding gun sales on eBay. Mr McCabe said: "eBay promotes itself as a 'community' of family-friendly individuals, yet it is allowing dealers to sell weapons without any check on whether they are active or not, and with no control over the age of people buying them.

"It is one of the richest companies in the world, yet it is failing to police its own website properly, and in turn contributing to the crime on our streets by allowing the sale of legal - yet absolutely lethal - weapons."

Linda Mitchell of the Gun Control Network, who set out to investigate the trade after her 12-year-old son was shot with an airgun by a 10-year-old friend, said: "Nobody can be certain what these guns are or that people under 17 are not buying them. …

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