ALBANY, N.Y. – Online auctioneer eBay Inc. will block the sale and shipment of stun guns and other illegal weapons to New York residents after working with Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (search), it was announced Tuesday.
In an investigation that started last year, Spitzer's office found that eBay users were easily able to buy stun guns through the company's Web site. Investigators, posing as ordinary customers, bought 16 stun guns from 16 different sellers on eBay (search).
The sellers, 14 of whom are from outside New York, are believed to have sold more than 1,100 stun guns to New Yorkers from September 2003 to August 2005, investigators said.
Included in the sales were a 900,000-volt Taser International Inc (search). stun gun valued at $57 and a $400 "Air Taser" that delivers a 50,000-volt disabling shock through darts connected by wires to the weapon.
"You wouldn't want these used in either illegal activities or horseplay," Spitzer spokesman Paul Larrabee said. "Dangerous devices should not be in the hands of those unable to properly use them and you certainly don't want them used in any criminal activity."
EBay was never a target of the investigation, Larrabee said.
New York residents who bid on an illegal weapon will receive an electronic warning from eBay that the transaction is illegal and that any purchase will be reported to authorities.
Anyone bidding on items on eBay has to fill out a registration with the company that includes the bidder's address.
EBay has also sent letters to stun-gun sellers to warn them that the sale of such weapons in New York and other states is illegal.
The company, based in San Jose, Calif., also agreed to suspend retailers who violate New York laws.
Hani Durzy, a spokesman for eBay, said the company has for a long time alerted stun gun dealers of the states in which it is illegal to sell the weapons. He said eBay modified its policy after having conversations with Spitzer's office.
"We have always had a policy that if it's illegal to do off eBay, it's illegal to do on eBay," Durzy said. "We have made some changes and additions to our existing stun gun policy. We want to continue to keep people from doing illegal things on eBay."
New York is one of seven states that ban electric stun devices, Spitzer's office said. The others are Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.