WASHINGTON – Following reports out of Minnesota of federal charges brought against a St. Paul man accused of illegally selling guns in high volumes online without a dealer license – the third recent instance of investigations for illegally “engaging in the business” of selling firearms since the President highlighted the issue in his executive actions on gun violence prevention in January – Everytown for Gun Safety today released the statement below from President John Feinblatt. Along with the Minnesota bust, which included two guns recovered at crime scenes in the state, there is an open investigation in Wisconsin and an indictment of a seller in Colorado.
STATEMENT FROM JOHN FEINBLATT, PRESIDENT OF EVERYTOWN FOR GUN SAFETY:
“The recent indictments of unlicensed, high volume gun sellers are a promising sign that President Obama’s executive action clarifying the standard for what it means to be ‘engaged in the business’ of selling firearms is working. It’s a wake-up call to sellers who are brazenly flouting the law online for all to see – and we hope to see more of it so there will be fewer avenues for criminals to buy guns without a background check and our communities will be safer.”
MORE INFORMATION ON MINNESOTA INDICTMENT:
According to a federal indictment, Eitan Benjamin Feldman, 28, illegally dealt in firearms without a license, offering 41 guns for resale over two years, and lied on at least nine firearms transaction records.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) in the District of Minnesota issued a press release on the case, noting that two guns of the guns Feldman sold without a license were later recovered at crime scenes in the state.
ATF St. Paul Field Division Special Agent in Charge James Modzelewski said, “Today’s arrest should send a message to unlicensed firearm dealers who put the public at risk each time they sell a firearm to a potential criminal. They are recklessly circumventing the criminal background check system and it is a crime.”
Everytown for Gun Safety conducted the foundational research on the online gun market, including investigations into Armslist.com. Everytown’s October 2015 report Business As Usual relied on a database of more than 600,000 gun ads obtained from Armslist.com. A phone number that public databases link to an individual named Eitan Benjamin Feldman in St. Paul, Minnesota appears in 41 unique gun ads in that database.
Two of the for-sale advertisements identified by Everytown are for two guns that match the models of the guns allegedly sold by Feldman and recovered at crime scenes. The dates of those postings match the dates on which those guns were allegedly sold.
- The USAO release indicates that Feldman had purchased a Bersa .380 pistol on May 10, 2015 which was later recovered at a crime scene: Everytown Armslist data indicates a seller using the phone number registered to Feldman posted an ad for a Bersa .380 pistol that same day.
- The USAO release further indicates that Feldman purchased a Taurus .38 on May 10, 2015 that was later recovered at a crime scene: Everytown Armlist data shows a seller using Feldman’s phone number posting an ad for a Taurus .38 that same day.
The data scraped during the 2015 investigation also show that at least 10 self-described unlicensed sellers in Minnesota posted 25 or more unique gun ads over that period, a threshold considered “high volume.” They made up 0.13% of Minnesota sellers but posted 2.4% of guns listed by Minnesotans.
The Everytown report highlights several major indicia used by courts interpreting whether a seller is illegally engaged in the business of dealing without a firearms license. The Feldman indictment alleges facts consistent with a positive hit for several of those indicia:
- The indictment alleges that Feldman marked up firearms for sale as much as 43 percent over the purchase price, suggesting he was selling guns for a profit.
- The indictment alleges that Feldman resold guns within as few as three days after buying them and that he listed guns for resale one day after buying them, suggesting that he was buying and reselling guns rapidly.
- The indictment alleges that Feldman listed for sale multiple Taurus PT-22 .22LR-caliber semiautomatic pistols, suggesting he was selling multiple guns of the same make and model.
- The indictment alleges that Feldman offered to “see what he could do” when asked by an undercover officer to find a Taurus 738, suggesting he was willing to obtain guns upon request.