Man monitors Craigslist for prohibited gun sales

Website strictly prohibits any sale of firearms

By Tarik Minor - Anchor, I-TEAM reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Jacksonville man is taking the battle against gun violence into his own hands, but it's not in the way you might expect.

The man, who's asked to have his identity protected for his own safety, said he's trying to stop buyers and sellers from purchasing guns on Craigslist, which is against the online service's rules.

He said he's tired of the recent gun violence in Jacksonville, which has seen 10 people shot in just the last two days.

The man said he's acting on a hunch and turned to Craigslist to see just how many weapons are being sold. He said he found rifles, handguns and ammunition for sale, even though the website strictly prohibits any sale of firearms.

EDITORS'S NOTE: A previous version of this article referred to the guns as illegal,
when the issue is that online sales is prohibited, not illegal.

"It's ridiculous," he said. "Every time you go on the news, someone's getting shot. Just look at yesterday -- a 15-year-old and a 17-year-old."

Over the last several weeks, the man has flagged more than 50 advertisements for weapons that he thinks are being used on Jacksonville's streets.

"Handguns, rifles, World War I rifles," he said. "I know some may be old, but they can still kill you, you know."

Craigslist specifically prohibits the sale of firearms, ammunition, clips, cartridges, reloading materials and even gunpowder, but it didn't take the man long to find all of the above. He said Craigslist is trying to delete the prohibited posts, but it can't keep up with the demand.

"I flagged it. It was removed, and two hours later it was back on there," he said. "I flagged it again, and yesterday it showed up -- the same ad, just worded a little different."

News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said it's legal to sell a gun to another Florida resident. He suspects Craigslist prohibits the sale of guns because it doesn't want to be the middle man.

"They just don't want to be associated with weapon sales in case it turns out that maybe the weapon was used in the commission of a crime and then they trace it back, it could damage their reputation," Smith said.

He said buying or selling a gun on Craigslist is risky because the buyer doesn't know the history of the weapon or exactly whom he or she is dealing with.

"They may be a convicted felon who can't buy from a gun dealer with a federal firearms license, and it could be a lot cheaper, and they don't have to go through the two- to three-day waiting period," Smith said.

News4Jax is awaiting comment from Craigslist.

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