eBay traders are still selling assault rifle add-ons despite the ban

Selling AR-15s is largely illegal in California. This also applies to high-capacity magazines that can hold more than 10 bullets. But should you manage to get your hands on both, with just $10.99 and a few clicks on eBay, you can top them up faster than ever.

That’s the promise of the Universal Magazine Speed ​​​​​​Loader For Rifle, a product designed to reduce the time it takes to load ammo into a gun magazine.

Until last week was the speed loader available for purchase on the e-commerce platform, with free shipping from Shanghai. Fifty-nine units had already been sold.

Although the product was advertised as universal, the post helpfully included a list of firearms that could load it. This list consisted mostly of assault rifles, including AR-15, AK-47, M-16, AK-74, HK33, G36 and Steyr AUG. The main photo also showed the loader being used to fill a high-capacity magazine.

All this despite eBay rules to forbid the sale of “assault weapon parts and accessories” — a policy that, according to a spokesman, extends to “assault weapon parts … even if they are also suitable for non-assault weapons” — as well as any high-capacity magazines and firearm components that are banned in California.

After The Times alerted eBay to the speedloader, it was removed along with eight other product listings that the company felt violated its policies.

Three other listings for the exact same Speedloader remain online, including 672 units sold. (These listings do not indicate assault weapon compatibility, but still show the tool being used with high-capacity magazines.)

Under California law, whether a given weapon is an assault weapon depends on how it’s configured. The same rifle may or may not be legalized by simply changing a grip, stock, or other component. Determining whether a part or accessory is intended for offensive weapons is therefore not easy.

On that call, eBay’s spokesperson said the platform was weighing factors like “the language used in the listing” and “how the manufacturers market the product.”

But amid a nationwide escalation in the gun control debate after military-style semi-automatic rifles were used to kill a total of 35 people Buffalo, New York, Uvalde, Texas Spirit Tulsa, Okla.Products as obvious in their purpose as the Speedloader continue to slip through.

This is not a new problem for eBay.

In 2019, after a similar series of mass shootings in Gilroy, California, El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, a Times investigation found finds incl Assault rifle magazines, collapsible stocks, and bayonets available for purchase on the site, which sometimes violates platform policies.

Partly in response to reporting by the Times, a group of Senate Democrats a letter late to the eBay boss at the time, who asked him to monitor the sale of guns and gun accessories more closely. eBay then changed its rule from banning “products mentioning ability with an offensive weapon” to the current, broader ban on “assault weapon parts and accessories.”

However, almost three years later, the site still hosts numerous entries that appear to violate this restriction.

Some sellers are brazen about it.

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

An eBay listing for a quick loader shows a high capacity magazine and lists the names of several compatible types of assault weapons.

(Keith Bedford/Los Angeles Times)

One, the AR-15 Super Slim Fixed Rear Sight – Black, is currently featured on the eBay landing page for Hunting Scope Mounts & Accessories as the site’s fourth highest rated product in the category.

Another, a Thordsen-branded Featureless AR15 Rifle Stock, had a starting bid of $79 and free pickup in Redwood City. (It has since been removed.) According to the Thordsen list for the same product, “featureless” weapon parts modify offensive weapons to comply with state laws e.g. B. by replacing an adjustable shaft with a fixed one. In 2019, eBay said non-functioning parts were banned.

Other listings are more subtle.

Some don’t name a specific weapon, just a category. A skull-shaped rubber loop designed to make swapping out used magazines easier is dubbed the “AR Skull Tactical Mag Pull,” and several 3-D printed clutches — an accessory that connects two different magazines together — include “AR,” “AK,” or “M4” in the name. (The M-4 is a shortened version of the M-16.)

A product called “Lets Go Brandon AR Magazine Coupler” is supplied by Costa Mesa for just under $20. eBay rules require that listings for firearm parts and accessories state the type of gun they fit, but the seller of the Let’s Go Brandon coupler appears to have circumvented this requirement by listing the item in the for lists comics and graphic novels. (Contacted by The Times, the seller said eBay’s system automatically generated the wrong category. He deleted the listing.) Other items that appeared to violate eBay’s firearms rules were listed under surplus military collectibles.

Two posts promoting bundled sets with AR sights, grips, slings, and stands also do not state AR-15 compatibility, but include photos of rifles that — given their detachable magazines and pistol grips — are listed in California among the assault weapons of the State illegal would be ban. (A federal judge overturned the ban in 2021, but it remains in effect pending review on appeal.) The Times asked eBay about one of those listings, and it was removed. The second stays up.

Other listings supersede gun model name specifications. Many contain the .223 and 5.56 numbers, which represent the calibers of cartridges designed for use in the AR-15 and M-16. Mark Oliva, director of public affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, told the Times in 2019 that “most people identify the .223 or 5.56 with an AR-15.” Another common number is 7.62, the standard diameter of AK-47 cartridges.

While such jargon can make offers somewhat opaque to those unfamiliar with guns, descriptions of equivalent products on other e-commerce sites make things clearer.

An EBay listing for a 10-round 5.56/.223 magazine made by the Adventure Line company makes no reference to AR-15s or M-16s. But on EveryGunPart.com, a 30-round version of the same magazine is directly referred to as “Adventure Line M16/AR15 Magazine”.

A California-registered TPM Arms featureless rifle

A dead, California-registered TPM Arms rifle is for sale at the company’s booth at last year’s Crossroads of the West Gun Show in Costa Mesa.

(AFP/Getty Images)

Many who offer a 5.56/.223 Colt 10-round magazine also don’t name specific guns, but a nearly identical product is specifically marked as the AR-15 on GunShowMags.com.

And although an Armaspec-branded extended magazine release advertises compatibility with 5.56, .223, and 7.62 cartridges on eBay, the relevant listing on Armaspec’s own website upfront states that it is “compatible with most AR-15s… – recipients”. (EBay removed the Colt and Armaspec products when asked.)

Contacted via eBay message, the seller of Adventure Line magazine, which has since been sold, said he believed the product did not violate the platform’s policies as the ammunition it contained was popular with hunters and sport shooters. The seller, who did not give his name, denied characterizing firearms, including an AR-15, which they own and use for target practice, as assault weapons. “I can put a lot of stuff on my guns to make them look like an assault rifle, but they will never be an ‘assault rifle,'” they wrote (California law requires components such as a pistol grip or a folding stock to be fitted on an AR-15 with a removable stock magazine makes it an assault rifle.)

Elsewhere on the site, The Times found a 7.62 muffler front cap and a 5.56 muffler end cap. Silencers and flash suppressors are specifically prohibited per eBay policy. eBay removed the front cap after The Times brought it to their attention; The muffler end cap has been sold.

As attempts by social media platforms to monitor extremist content and viral misinformation illustrate all too well, moderating content at scale is a tricky business. eBay’s representative said that in 2022 the company had already blocked more than 1 million listings that violated its firearms and firearm accessories policies.

Some eBay traders openly admit trying to avoid detection.

One seller offering .223 and 5.56×45 magazines wrote in their listing, “You know what platform (rifle/pistol) these are for – eBay won’t let me use those words.”

An accompanying product photo was less subtle. The magazines, still in their original packaging, were clearly marked as “AR-15 Magazine”.

Another auctioneer of a “custom pistol grip” described the item as an “enforcer grip” for the Chinese version of the weapon designed by the famous Russian tanker whos [sic] Name not allowed on eBay” – seemingly a reference to the Type 56, a Chinese assault rifle modeled on the AK-47, and Mikhail Kalashnikov, the Soviet tank commander who developed the AK-47.

eBay didn’t answer a question about whether there was a list of specific search terms it looked for in the titles, bodies, or photos of new listings, such as “AR-15” or “Kalashnikov.” Both of the above listings were removed after The Times flagged them for eBay.

“It is ruthless that days after multiple mass shootings have torn communities apart and claimed the lives of innocent children and Americans, assault rifles — and accessories to make them even more dangerous — continue to be available online and just a click away,” said Sen. Robert Menendez (DN.J.) said in an emailed statement.

It was Menendez who led the 2019 investigation into eBay’s handling of assault weapon accessories, prompted in part by the Times’ previous coverage of the matter.

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

“By ignoring our previous calls to enforce their policies and yet again failing to monitor their own platforms,” ​​he said, “these companies continue to put people at risk.”

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