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American Public Health Association
133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition
December 10-14, 2005
Philadelphia, PA
APHA 2005
4296.0: Tuesday, December 13, 2005 - 4:30 PM

Abstract #119544

Ready, aim..click: An exploration of firearms sales practices on the Internet

Morgan L. Johnson, MPH1, J. Michael Bowling, PhD2, and Kurt M. Ribisl, PhD1. (1) Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health, 117 Purefoy Road, Apt. 3, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, 919-942-3439, morganj@email.unc.edu, (2) Injury Prevention Research Center, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Campus Box 7505, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7050

The purposes of this study were to evaluate the extent to which Internet-based firearms vendors encourage users to abide by firearms laws, and the perceived level of difficulty in purchasing firearms via the Internet for prohibited persons such as felons and juveniles. From an initial 200 websites, 22 sites were selected for study using key word searches through Google search engine. Sites were evaluated on multiple criteria through a checklist system. Data were entered into Excel, and frequencies of response categories for each checklist item were calculated. Of the 22 sites, 22% posted general user warnings to abide by firearms laws. None of the websites posted warnings on their homepages about not selling firearms to felons or juveniles. Further, 23% asked users to indicate age, and 5% asked for felony conviction status. However, no websites included a verification system for either age or felony conviction status. Thousands of firearms were found for sale on these websites, with 77% of sites offering handguns, 73% offering semi-automatic weapons, and 27% offering fully-automatic weapons. Every site had mechanisms in place allowing direct contact between buyers and sellers. The data indicate websites facilitating private sales of firearms promote easy access to guns while putting limited emphasis on encouraging users to abide by firearms laws. Similar to sales by private owners at gun shows, these websites seem to function as secondary firearms markets. Policy makers and public health practitioners should not ignore these markets when formulating plans to counter firearms-related violence.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, the participant (learner) in this session will be able to

Keywords: Firearms, Policy/Policy Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

I wish to disclose that I have NO financial interests or other relationship with the manufactures of commercial products, suppliers of commercial services or commercial supporters.

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The 133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition (December 10-14, 2005) of APHA