Why can you Still Buy a Tattoo Machine on eBay?
I came across this horrible story while perusing the Mail Online this week. I found this article about a 15 year old in Blackpool who had been tattooing his friends in his bedroom with a tattoo machine he could easily have bought off eBay.
The article states: “It is believed the 15-year-old boy had attempted to sterilise the needles using household Dettol, hand gel and Savlon cream.” Well at least he vaguely understood about the need to sterilise equipment, and he gave it a shot. But clearly Dettol is just not going to cut it. I pity the poor kids who went there to get something awful tattooed on their skin and came away with a nasty infection, if not hepatitis.
The one good thing to come out of this story is that Blackpool Council is beginning an awareness campaign working with local schools to highlight the dangers of home tattooing.
Catherine Hill, vice principal at Blackpool and the Fylde College, said: “The College is happy to raise awareness among young people about the risks posed by illegal tattooing.
“There are many pressures on young people today and by keeping our students informed while in college, we will hopefully help to make sure that they can stay safe in the outside world.”
This absolutely misses the point. Only employed, licensed tattooing professionals should be allowed to buy tattoo kit on the internet. These are the ones who certainly won’t be buying equipment off eBay anyway, so why is this popular auction site even allowed to sell this stuff?
You can buy almost anything on eBay, whether it is a fart in a jar, an army tank, or someone’s virginity (although I’m pretty sure they are cracking down on the latter). Among the things you cannot buy are weapons including knives, knuckledusters and crossbows, some types of porn, and drug paraphernalia.
eBay also has a policy that it will not allow the sale of “items encouraging illegal activity”, which is defines as “a link to a website that provides information on how to hijack an aircraft” or “an eBook describing how to create methamphetamine” for example.
However, there is a ‘tattoo starter kit’ listed for sale on the site right now which includes machines, needles and inks (no Dettol though) for £25.90. Clearly this is something which could encourage illegal activity since there are no restrictions on who can buy and use this stuff, whether a minor or simply unlicensed. And it can of course lead to serious harm for the person who ends up at the end of that dirty needle.
I am going to email eBay and ask them why they continue to allow the sale of this equipment to anyone who wants it, and how it fits in with their policies. I’m not meaning to pick on eBay here, I have used it as an example because it’s the largest auction site. I actually think there should be a ban on selling tattoo guns through any outlet open to the public.
Anyone who is serious about learning to tattoo should have to do it the hard way and learn from a professional. Otherwise, as tattooing grows ever more popular, we are going to be reading a lot more awful stories like the one above.
My name is Hannah Smith and I am a regular contributor to Tattoo Revolution Magazine, and now I blog for Tattoosday UK, as long as you dear readers don’t run me out of town! I am on the hunt for ideas for future blog posts so please send me your pics, news, views, whatever to firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/ hannah_fran_ink