eBay Blocks Stun-gun Sales in NY|
eBay is helping New York state authorities keep stun guns and other outlawed weapons off the streets.
The State Attorney General's office received a tip that stun guns were being sold to New Yorkers through the nation's leading Internet auction site. eBay helped authorities in an undercover investigation that netted 16 sellers believed responsible for the sale of more than 1,100 stun guns and Tasers to New Yorkers from September 2003 to August 2005.
The state announced Tuesday that the company also agreed to block future sales.
With eBay's help, undercover investigators bought 16 weapons from 14 out-of-state sellers and two sellers based in New York. The weapons they purchased included: a $400 Air Taser, which shoots darts to deliver electrical shocks; a $50 stun gun that looks like a cell phone; and a 900,000-volt Taser for $57.
District attorneys in New York State's Erie and Suffolk counties are following up on information about two sellers from their jurisdictions. Sellers from other states agreed to pay fines and discontinue sales.
Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Bruce, who led the investigation with Assistant Attorney General Bobby Colon, said during an interview Tuesday that it's not easy to prosecute buyers because they could claim the purchases were for someone else.
New York is among seven states that prohibit possession of stun guns and similar devices. The state allows exemptions for people who turn the weapons over to authorities, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer spokesman Paul Larrabee said in an interview Tuesday. New York State is focusing on getting the weapons off the streets and preventing future sales, not prosecuting past buyers.
"Notices will go out to individuals who purchased the items," Bruce said. "We'll ask if they have them to turn them in."
In the future, however, New Yorkers bidding on the weapons over the Internet will be warned electronically that such transactions are illegal and their activities will be reported. Those who sell stun guns will receive letters notifying them that New York outlaws the weapons. eBay has agreed to suspend sellers who ignore the laws.
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