Just How Easy Is It To Buy Firearms Online?
A few weeks before the high-school shootings in Littleton, Colorado, Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) and a colleague in the House introduced a bill to regulate the sale of firearms over the Net. “There are two glaring loopholes that allow kids and criminals to get guns–and those are gun shows and the Internet,” he said. “If you are 14 years old and you want to buy a gun directly through the Internet, right now, no one is going to know your age.” If passed, Schumer’s bill, known as the Internet Gun Trafficking Act of 1999, would require that every Web site dedicated to gun sales be run by a federally licensed firearms dealer. But just how big a loophole is the Net, really? How quickly could, say, a kid with a few bucks buy guns online? Could he just skip the waiting periods and background checks? Some news reports claim it’s as easy to buy a gun online as it is to order a book from Amazon.com. In search of an answer, I hit the Net for a week straight trying to get a gun. This is what I discovered. Finding guns online was about as hard as finding PAC money in Washington.…
Searching For Those All-important People In Your Life Was Once A Job For Professionals
Wayne Hale was just a baby on the day in 1950 when his mother tried to escape from the beatings she suffered at home. But her husband, Hale’s father, caught up with her, put a gun to her head, and took young Wayne from her arms. “I never thought I’d get to say the word mom, because I wasn’t allowed to say it while I was growing up,” recalls the 48-year-old South Carolina man, who spent much of his adulthood in a fruitless search to locate his mother. During his darkest days, Hale thought perhaps his father had killed her. For years after Hale’s traumatic episode, a California woman named Kathy Chester had an abiding curiosity about an old photo of a baby. At first, Chester’s mother said the baby was a family friend. Eventually Chester learned it was an older half-brother. “Nobody wanted to say much to me or admit he existed,” she says. Over the years she pieced together a name and a birth date but had no luck finding him through conventional means. Then the 40-year-old beauty-shop owner bought a computer for her business. Last summer she spotted an Internet ad for a search service, 1-800-U.S.Search, and decided to try it.…