It's sad but true: the gun community has suffered badly from online scams. Where most communities are served by big Silicon Valley tech companies that suppress scams, the gun community is not. Big Tech has prohibited our usage and left us outside with the scammers.
Because they aren't aware of a better option, many gun owners still regularly mail checks and money orders to strangers, like people did back in 1995. Or they try to use PayPal in spite of violating policy. Regardless, this pay-and-pray approach isn't safe. That's why people in our community get scammed constantly.
Because of all the scams, our community has learned to be paranoid of scammers. But we've become so paranoid that it's counterproductive – even comical. Recent events from the r/guns forum are a great example. To the paranoid, even anti-scammers sound like scammers. After years of suffering from scams, one thing is clear: Our community is so paranoid it is hindering us from solving the problem.
Getting banned for "shady shit"
Here's a recent example of our community's paranoia in action, from actual happenings on Reddit. First, Express_Rabbit posts to ask the r/guns community for guidance after winning a GunBroker auction:
What I heard is people send checks to the seller address. But the dude said he takes Venmo. Is that a good idea or what’s the safest and best option to pay?
Yes, it's unfortunate that someone needs to ask this question in 2022, because this is a solved problem. But more on that later. First, let's consider the most-upvoted response:
Only use CC or money orders imo. Venmo/paypal etc don't have protections for fraud.
This advice is of mixed quality:
- Good advice on Venmo. It's true that Venmo has no protections for fraud. For that matter, it doesn't allow firearm transactions and will seize your account if it catches you. So it's good advice not to use Venmo.
- Un-usable advice on credit cards. The GunBroker credit card option is only available when buying from certain businesses. It is not available for a private party seller, like the one Express_Rabbit is buying from.
- Bad advice on money orders. The advice is effectively, "Only use money orders". Unfortunately, money orders are very dangerous for the buyer. They are what scammers prefer, because it's a cash equivalent that is easy to steal. It's simple: money orders are how people get scammed.
In response to that comment, guntab-dan responds:
There is a "PayPal for guns" that allows anybody to make credit card payments (not just business customers) and is much safer than money orders. Google "only safe payments for guns" and click the first result.
Note how this comment does not mention GunTab by name, and instead directs readers to the world's most trusted source of information. Apparently it still seemed sketchy to the moderators of r/guns, because two hours later they permanently banned guntab-dan, calling his post "spam".
A permanent ban seems excessive. This was a targeted comment that offered real value. It didn't mention GunTab by name, so it wasn't advertising. Basically, it seems to follow the r/guns rules. So a ban seems like a mistake by an overworked moderator.
In response, guntab-dan messaged the moderators:
Hi guys. I just got banned for spam. Somebody was suggesting money orders on GunBroker, which is pretty dangerous in terms of scams. I commented there is a safer way. Didn't mention any names. Is there a way for me to be un-banned?
Their response two hours later:
No. Fuck off with whatever shady shit you're up to.
Then they "muted" guntab-dan for 28 days, so he couldn't respond. They don't know what's happening, but they're certain it's evil. What can you do but laugh?
So paranoid that it's funny
The moderator's response is pretty ironic. GunTab exists to protect people from "shady shit" online – specifically online gun scams of all types. Money orders are one of the strongest indicators of shady transactions, because money orders are what scammers prefer. The moderators banned someone for advising against something shady.
The irony grows when you look at the bigger picture. GunTab is the only existing solution to the scam problem these moderators are facing. Yet their first reaction to hearing about it? Ban the user who spoke up. Apparently these moderators are content assuming GunTab is too good to be true.
Obviously the moderators didn't bother to Google "only safe payments for guns" as suggested. They would have found GunTab at the top of the results. And there is a reason for that. GunTab is the only safe option for online gun and ammo transactions, and has been for many years.
Paranoia is an obstacle, but not a wall
GunTab has been operating since 2015. We've seen scam paranoia in all its forms.
Early on, we spoke with with marketplaces that weren't ready to recommend GunTab because no other marketplaces were recommending it yet. Now multiple marketplaces recommend it. In fact, Wasatch Firearm Network even uses it exclusively for all transactions.
Early on, we spoke with with FFLs who were going to continue asking for payment by mail because GunTab had "only been around for a few years". Now many FFLs rely on GunTab for all their online transactions.
Even today, we still sometimes hear about transactions where the buyer wants to use GunTab but the seller is wary, or vice versa. For example, this message from a buyer in 2021:
I just set up an account with you yesterday. This seller unfamiliar with and therefore reluctant to use your service. Is there a way you can send him assurance he will get paid when gun delivered to my local FFL?
We called the seller and spoke with him. Hearing a human voice – a Texan voice – helped him feel comfortable with using GunTab. But this is strange to us, because it amounts to us saying, "Don't worry, you can trust us." Why take it from us, when you could take it from actual users?
What actual users say
When you're not sure whether to trust a business, you depend on statements from their past customers. That's the premise behind Google reviews and Yelp. And there are plenty of statements from past customers of GunTab.
Actual GunTab users have written reviews, posted on forums and social media, and shared testimonials. There are hundreds of examples posted on the GunTab website. A GunTab user going by @armed.asian has even posted memes about GunTab, including this one:
Yes, someone appreciated GunTab enough to meme it! And for clarity: nobody paid him to do it. His experience with GunTab was just that good.
Hopefully the moderators of r/guns will un-ban guntab-dan someday. In fact, we'd love to see guntab-dan do an AMA there. We'll update this article if the moderators ever allow him back into their good graces.
Regardless, GunTab will continue making paranoia unnecessary for online gun transactions. If you use GunTab, you can rest easy.
P.S. It's free to open a GunTab account, try it now!