AR-15s are largely illegal for sale in California. As well as high-capacity magazines that can hold more than 10 bullets. But if you can get your hands on both, you can reload them faster than ever with just $10.99 and a few clicks on EBay.
That’s the promise of the “Universal Magazine Speed Loader For Rifle,” a product designed to reduce the time it takes to get ammunition into the armory.
Until last week, it was a speedloader Available to buy An e-commerce platform, with free shipping from Shanghai. 59 units have already been sold.
Although the product was advertised as universal, the post helpfully included a list of firearms that could be used to load it. That list consisted largely of assault rifles, including the AR-15, AK-47, M-16, AK-74, HK33, G36, and Steyr AUG. The main image also showed the loader being used to fill a high-capacity magazine.
This is all even though eBay rules it forbidden Selling “assault weapons parts and accessories” — a policy the spokesperson said extends to “parts designed for assault weapons…even if they also fit non-assault weapons” — as well as all high-capacity magazines and any firearm components prohibited in California.
After The Times brought the speed upload tool to EBay’s attention, it was removed, along with eight other listings of products that the company determined violated its policies.
There are still three more listings for the same speed loader online, with 672 units sold among them. (These lists do not specify assault rifle compatibility but still show the tool used with high-capacity magazines.)
Under California law, whether a weapon is an offensive weapon depends on how it is configured; The gun itself can be made legal or not with a simple swap of the grip, stock or other components. Thus, determining whether a part or accessory is intended for assault weapons is not easy.
When making that call, an EBay spokesperson said the platform weighs factors such as “the language used on the menu” and “how manufacturers market the product.”
However, amid a nationwide escalation in the gun control controversy after military-grade semi-automatic rifles were used to kill a total of 35 people in Buffalo, New YorkAnd the Uvald, Texas And the Tulsa, Okla.The products are stark in their purpose as the fast loader continues to glide.
For eBay, it’s not a new problem.
In 2019, after a similar series of mass shootings in Gilroy, California, El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, The Times investigated Items found including Assault rifle magazines, collapsible stocks, and bayonets are available for purchase on the site, sometimes violating platform policies.
Partly in response to the Times report, a group of Senate Democrats I sent a message To the then CEO of EBay urging him to increase oversight of the sale of guns and accessories. EBay then changed its rule from a ban on “products that indicate the ability to use an offensive weapon” to the current, broader ban on “parts and accessories for offensive weapons.”
Nearly three years later, the site still hosts several listings that appear to violate this restriction.
Some sellers are rude about it.
The first, “AR-15 Super Slim Fixed Rear Sight – Black,” is currently featured on EBay’s landing page for “Hunting Scope Mounts & Accessories” as the site’s fourth best product in this category.
Another, a Thordsen-branded product called the “Virtureless AR15 Rifle Stock,” had an initial offer of $79 and a free pickup available in Redwood City. (It has since been removed). According to Thordsen for the same product, modifying “profile” rifle parts for assault weapons to comply with state laws, such as replacing an adjustable stock with a fixed one. In 2019, EBay said that the featureless parts were banned.
Other listings are more accurate.
Some do not call a specific weapon, but only a class. The skull-shaped rubber ring that’s supposed to make it easier to swap out used magazines is called an “AR Skull Tactical Mag Pull,” as well as several 3D-printed couplers — an accessory that ties two different magazines together — including an “AR,” “AK” or “M4” in their names. (The M-4 is a shortened version of the M-16.)
A product called “Lets Go Brandon AR Mag coupler” comes from Costa Mesa for just under $20. EBay rules require lists of firearms parts and accessories to determine what type of gun it will fit, but it appears that “Let’s Go Brandon” coupler seller has avoided this requirement by listing the item in the comics and graphic novel category. (Contacted by The Times, 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 as Military Surplus Holdings.
Two sets of ad packages for augmented reality sights, grips, levers, and mounts not only specify AR-15 compatibility, but also include images of rifles that—due to their removable magazines and pistol grip—would be illegal in California under the state’s assault weapons ban. (A federal judge overturned the ban in 2021, but it is still in effect pending an appeal review.) The Times asked EBay about one of these listings, and it was deleted. The second remains.
Other listings replace the technical specifications of the gun model names. Many include the numbers .223 and 5.56, which represent cartridge calibers developed for use in the AR-15 and M-16. “Most people identify .223 or 5.56 with an AR-15,” Mark Oliva, director of public affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, told The Times in 2019. Another frequent number is 7.62, the standard diameter for AK-47 cartridges.
While such terms may make listings semi-opaque to those unfamiliar with guns, descriptions of similar products on other e-commerce sites say things more clearly.
EBay’s listing for a 10-round 5.56/.223 magazine manufactured by Adventure Line does not mention AR-15s or M-16s. But on EveryGunPart.com, a 30-round version of the same magazine is directly named “Adventure Line M16/AR15 Magazine.”
There are many offering Colt 5.56/.223 10-round magazines that also do not refer to any specific weapons, yet a nearly identical product has been specifically rated as AR-15s on GunShowMags.com.
And while the Armaspec extended magazine release advertises compatibility with the 5.56, .223 and 7.62 cartridges on EBay, the equivalent listing on Armaspec’s own website says upfront that it is “compatible with most AR-15 receivers.” (EBay removed Colt and Armaspec products when asked about them.)
Contacted via an EBay message, the seller of the Adventure Line magazine, which has since been sold, said they believe the product does not violate platform policies because the ammo it carries is popular with hunters and sport shooters. The seller, who was not named, objected to the characterization of firearms, including the AR-15 they own and use for target practice, as offensive weapons. They wrote, “I could put a bunch of things on my rifle to make it look like an assault rifle, but it would never be an ‘assault rifle.’” (Under California law, putting components like a pistol grip or folding stock on an AR-15 with a removable magazine makes it an assault rifle.) )
Elsewhere on the site, The Times found a front cover for a 7.62 muffler and a 5.56 terminal cover. Silencers and flash capacitors are specifically prohibited by EBay policy. EBay removed the front cover after The Times brought it to the company’s attention; Condenser end cap sold out.
As attempts by social media platforms to monitor extremist content and viral disinformation well demonstrate, moderating content is a difficult thing to do at scale. An EBay representative said the company already banned more than 1 million listings in 2022 that violated its firearms and accessories policy.
Some EBay merchants expressly acknowledge trying to avoid disclosure.
One seller, who offers .223 and 5.56×45 magazines, wrote in their listing: “You know which platform (rifles/pistol) custom — EBay wouldn’t let me use those words.”
The accompanying product image was less accurate. The magazines, still in their original packaging, were titled “AR-15 Magazine.”
Another person, putting up a “custom pistol grip” for auction, described the item as a “port type” grip of the Chinese version of the gun designed by the famous Russian carrier WHOS [sic] The name is not allowed on EBay” — an apparent reference to the Type 56, a Chinese AK-47-style assault rifle, and Mikhail Kalashnikov, the Soviet tank commander who developed the AK-47.
EBay did not answer a question about whether there is a list of specific search terms being scanned in the titles, bodies or images of new listings, such as “AR-15” or “Kalashnikov.” Both listings above were removed after The Times flagged them for EBay.
“It is inconceivable that after days of multiple mass shootings tearing apart communities and taking the lives of innocent children and Americans, assault rifles — and attachments to make them more dangerous — are still available online and with just one click,” Senator Robert Menendez (DN.J.) said in Statement via email.
It was Menendez who led the 2019 investigation into eBay’s handling of offensive weapon accessories which was prompted in part by an earlier Times report on the subject.
Three years later, Menendez says the platform is still not doing what it should be.
“By ignoring our previous requests to enforce their policies and effectively failing again to monitor their own programs,” he said, “these companies continue to put people at risk.”