State, Ebay Stem Shipments Of Illegal Stun Guns In Ny

Attorney General Spitzer today announced that it has worked with the nation’s leading online marketplace to help prevent shipments of dangerous stun guns and other illegal weapons in New York.

Under the voluntarily action, eBay will take a series of steps to block the sale and shipment of such weapons to New Yorkers.

"State law specifically prohibits possession of stun guns and related weapons," Spitzer said. "We are happy to work closely with eBay to ensure that the internet is not used to facilitate illegal activity."

After receiving tips that illegal weapons were being purchased on eBay, the Attorney General’s office began an investigation earlier this year. The office was able to confirm quickly that the weapons were readily available over the internet. Investigators, posing as ordinary consumers, purchased 16 stun guns from 16 different sellers through the eBay auction website.

Among the items purchased were a 900,000-volt Taser stun gun valued at $57, an "Air Taser" stun gun that shoots a darts delivering a disabling shock for $400, and a stun gun made to look like a cellphone for $50.

With eBay’s assistance, the Attorney General’s office then contacted the 16 sellers who together are believed to have sold more than 1,100 stun guns to New Yorkers between September 2003 and August 2005. All but two of the sellers were located out of state.

eBay cooperated in the investigation and was never a target of the Attorney General’s probe.

The Attorney General’s office reached agreements with sellers to discontinue the sales and pay a fine. Information on sales of stun guns has also been reported to local district attorneys

In addition, as a result of the investigation, eBay has taken the following steps:

– The company implemented a messaging system to deter New Yorkers from participating in stun gun sales. Under the new system, anyone from New York, who bids on an illegal weapon will receive an electronic warning that purchasing a stun gun is illegal in New York; and

– The company is sending letters to sellers of stun guns to warn them that sale and possession of stun guns in New York is illegal;

The Attorney General thanked eBay for its cooperation in the matter.

New York is one of seven states that ban electronic "stunning devices." Article 265 of the State Penal Law makes it a misdemeanor crime to possess any device designed to stun, knock out or paralyze a person by means of high voltage electric shock.

The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Bruce of the Rochester Regional Office and Bobby Colon, Assistant Attorney General in Charge of the Rochester Regional Office.