A couple of years ago, flipping through the pages of a well-known weapons forum, I came up with the question: "I wonder how much a gun costs on the black market?" I was not going to buy it, I have a sufficient arsenal of legal civilian weapons, I was just terribly interested. Next, I'm going to tell you what discoveries this all led to.
Disclamer: The further description is not an instruction on where and how to buy weapons (so there will be no references), this is only a study of a very relevant topic at the moment and, as a result, some conclusions.
After some time spent on the Internet, it turned out that all the weapons sold on the Internet look suspicious. Neither websites nor sellers inspire any confidence. But I did not lower my hands, I dug further, and one day I came across the Thor anonymous access system, which is also called the "deep" or "dark" Internet.
All correspondence is conducted through encryption. The seller exposes a public key, with which any person can encrypt the message, but only the seller himself can decrypt it. Encryption algorithms are very strong, subject to all the rules, a very reliable system is obtained, which is very, very difficult to crack. The next technology used is Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency that allows people to freely dispose of their money. To get a wallet you do not need a real name and a scan of the passport, you do not need a mobile phone number, you do not even need an e-mail, but you can transfer any amount of money (in bitcoins, of course), to any person in any country, and no central servers are used, the transaction takes place from one person to another. No one will ban, there are no limits, very low transaction fees, in short, a system for people – me and I alone the master of my money – and this is the main reason why governments and banks do not like bitcoin.
Thus, these three technologies (Tor, encryption, bitcoin) combined gave criminals the opportunity to trade not only weapons, but also other illegal goods, primarily all kinds of narcotic substances, while remaining inaccessible to law enforcement agencies.
Further, the trading transaction system itself was developed and polished. In the recent past, it looked something like this. The seller agrees with the administration of the forum, site-platform in the tor network (the site is not available on the usual Internet) on the sale of weapons. Creates a theme with a product description, price, photo, communication methods, and a public key for encryption. Interested customers are written off with the seller, and if agreed, then another important participant appears on the scene - the "guarantor", who is an intermediary, ensuring that no one will deceive anyone. If the buyer is satisfied with the goods and has no claims, he informs the guarantor, the guarantor transfers money to the seller minus his share (3-7%) and the share of the site (3-5%). Many people have lost their money to scams when buying weapons on the dark web.
But, as they say, progress does not stand still. Now many sites are putting into operation an automatic trading system. Money for the goods is transferred not to the guarantor, as it was before, but to the site. Where they are frozen until the buyer and seller confirm the transaction. Here everything rests on the authority of the site - a sad example of the SiteEvolyushn, the owners of the site disappeared taking several tens of millions of dollars in bitcoins. But there is no such thing as a risk-free system.
As a result, everyone is absolutely satisfied - the seller sold, the buyer bought, while no one saw or heard anyone. If something went wrong, for example, the seller decided to sell air or not at all what was intended, then the guarantor will settle this problem, and he will do this, as a rule, at his discretion. The system, of course, is not perfect and it certainly has flaws, but so far it works and there are no alternatives.
And if you look at this system quite simply, then agreed - paid - took from the bookmark.
Now that the "how" is clear, let's consider the "what", "how much" and "in what volumes".
Factory-made weapons are not sold much, according to my estimates, about 15-20% (and even then most of them are hunting rifles of different designs and calibers), the rest is to some extent alterations from signal weapons, from MMG. Sometimes there are restored samples of the Patriotic War. The most popular model is the alteration of the MP-371 (signal "makarov"), MMG PM, various signal modifications and MMG revolver Nagant. Among the submachine guns on the market periodically appear alterations from the MMG PPS and some other samples, for example, Czechoslovak Sa. 26, Scorpio.
Prices vary greatly. From quite lifting to sky-high. The price to date for the best-selling alteration under Makarov from MP-371 varies from 400 to 800 dollars
Until this market has gone to the masses, the market volumes are very modest. After talking with sellers of alteration pistols, I found out that they sell 1-2 pistols per month, everything else is piecemeal, does not appear often, disappears, i.e. sells out quickly. The demand for such things in our country is huge. One of the features is that they do not like to give too much information here - after the sale, the ad is immediately removed from the network and therefore many visitors have the impression that there is very little product, in fact, you just need to go more often.
And now the conclusions. I'm not an analyst at all, so I'll talk about things that are obvious.
First. Law enforcement agencies do not yet know how to deal with such things, many merchants have been selling their prohibited goods for years. They disappear, as a rule, when they try to bu weapons and sell weapons directly, and not through the network.
Secondly,the network market of illegal weapons will grow, where people can buy weapons the demand, as I said above, is huge, the dangers are minimized. So far, the growth of the market is limited only by the fact that not very many people know about such a market and insufficient computer literacy (Thor, bitcoin and encryption things are not complicated, but nevertheless, you need to spend some time to study them).
Third. Criminals get unlimited access to pistols-alterations, which are not registered in any databases, neither by numbers, nor by shot bullets and shell casings. But not only current and potential robbers and murderers buy weapons, but also quite ordinary citizens who want to somehow protect themselves in such difficult times. But these ordinary citizens still decided to break the law, which puts them in the category of criminals.
Fourth. Many in the network expect a surge in activity in the market of illegal firearms in connection with the well-known events in the east of USA. It does not even matter how and how this war ends, a certain part of the weapons and ammunition will get to USA and some part will probably be sold through trading platforms in the Tor.
Alas, there is no simple solution to this problem. It is quite obvious that the market will grow, but at the same time it is completely unclear how the authorities are going to deal with this.