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Analysis: Status of Weapons & Firearms Trade on the Dark Web

Posted on the 07 May 2019 by Darkwebnews @darkwebnews

Remember the Dark Web News story about an anti-Islamic terrorist who acquired a bomb from the dark web to blow up a mosque?

What about the news coverage about a California man who pleaded guilty to selling firearms via the dark web?

While the debate over gun regulation rages on and terrorist groups continue to shake the foundations of human freedom, the darknet presence of weapon-selling masterminds is rather misty.

Today, terror squads have increasingly sought the services of dark web marketplaces to access the tools of their trade-whether it's through the creation of discussion forums to plan their missions or via darknet markets used to purchase weapons.

It has become a common occurrence for law enforcement agencies to uncover the activities of such groups via darknet discussion forums.

What Does the Research Say?

Experts believe that the dark web has not received due attention as far as its security potential is concerned.

This gap has prompted a host of researchers to investigate the issue of dark web trading of firearms and explosives.

A recently published paper explicated important insights about the darknet weapons trade that has circumvented U.S. gun laws, including regulations that traverse international borders.

Thomas Holt, a Michigan State University criminal justice professor who co-authored the paper, highlighted the fact that the dark web weapons trade is somewhat of a mystery-many of us are still not fully aware of what goes on in an environment that has been known to accommodate illegal activities.

In context, most people may know that the dark web supports the trading of weapons, but fail to fathom the extent of this business.

The criminal justice expert went on to spellut the need for the public to understand the movement of weapons across the dark web, with an emphasis on the nature of weapon trading and the kind of goods available online.

In Holt's view, this would open the lid to knowledge describing the precise nature of gun distribution via the dark web.

Furthermore, the paper discussed details about what most people involved have been trying to understand about the world of darknet weapons trading.

While one might expect military-grade assault rifles to be the most popular guns sold on the dark web, it was revealed that a majority of the guns available for sale are handguns-firearms that may be acquired under license on U.S. soil.

In addition, the costs of these weapons on the dark web did not differ with price points of similar goods available in regular gun stores.

Current Status

In the following section, we'll dig deep into some details regarding the realities of weapons trading networks on the dark web.

Sources and Types of Weapons

There has been a steady rise in the number of registered and illegally-held firearms across the world.

The dark web has provided a very dependable channel for extremists and civilians to purchase guns of their choice.

Statistics show that 64 percent of weapons sold via the dark web are handguns, while semi-automatic weapons account for 17 percent of all sales.

The U.S. is the source for the majority of weapons sold online while the E.U. is the largest market for guns traded via darknet platforms-generating monumental revenues that account for a significant portion of profits made on the dark web.

Most buyers that purchase guns online reside in countries with strict gun laws, purchasing them mostly from sellers in the U.S. where guns are more easily obtained.

Purchases are also made by subjects who are unable to obtain a desired firearm through the legal process, possibly due to their criminal record.

Marketable firearms are usually traded via darknet forums that host product discussions.

In such environments, vendors may attempt selling their products directly using cryptocurrencies as the mode of payment and use the forums to designate gun drop-off points.

Apart from actual guns, the sale of weapons via the dark web is fueled by the availability of digital content associated with guns.

This has been known to pose significant challenges to law enforcement agencies as they strive to investigate and track weapons-trading syndicates.

The digital content in question ranges from online guidebooks, multimedia packages and related information that directs consumers on the execution of illicit actions.

For example one may find e-books that provide explanations of techniques to convert replica firearms into lethal weapons.It is also common to stumble upon step-by-step guides detailing how to manufacture bombs.

The Process of Shipping Weapons

The process of shipping weapons from sellers to prospective buyers is not simple.

The possibility of exchanges being intercepted by law enforcement agencies is high, not to mention the fact that postal workers and customs officers are always on the lookout for suspicious packages.

One of the methods used by gun traders to avoid police interception is to ship disassembled gun parts in separate packages that are handled by different courier companies.

This approach requires the customer to assemble the elements to build a fully functional weapon, but reduces the likelihood of detection.

In addition, the practice of shipping individual firearm parts instead of assembled guns has been used to exploit the legal loophole present in some countries in which the importing of firearm parts is not outlawed, but complete guns cannot be brought over the borders.

In countries where this loophole cannot be used, weapons traders often ship firearm parts embedded in regular consumer electronics like computers.

The shipping of parts along with drugs is also a common occurrence in cases involving bulk shipping of orders across the world.

For the purpose of discretion, a majority of weapon vendors tend to withhold shipping and delivery information when putting up items for sale via darknet marketplaces.

Shipping details are only made clear following payment, which would be submitted to a selected escrow account.

The shipping data would be supplied to buyers through encrypted email or messaging apps.


The articles and content found on Dark Web News are for general information purposes only and are not intended to solicit illegal activity or constitute legal advice. Using drugs is harmful to your health and can cause serious problems including death and imprisonment, and any treatment should not be undertaken without medical supervision.

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