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Man orders flat screen on Amazon, gets assault rifle

Customer who ordered a fine high-definition TV on Amazon opens the box to discover that the third-party merchant has sent him a highly defined murder weapon.

Surprise! MyFoxDC Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Amazon always offers such delightful surprises.

Often a box is lying on my doorstep and my heart leaps because someone has sent me a gift. Only then do I realize that, yet again, I did some late-night online shopping after a small nightcap.

One can imagine, though, that Seth Horvitz of Washington, D.C. must have felt giddy when the flat-screen TV he had bought through a third-party vendor on Amazon arrived at his apartment.

As MyFoxDC dispatches it, Horvitz eagerly opened the box, only to find a Sig Sauer SIG716.

This happens to be, as the Sig Sauer Web site declaims: "The rifle of choice when you require the power of a larger caliber carbine."

I cannot imagine who might be doing the choosing when ordering one of these things. I can only hope it would be someone with the appropriate qualifications and mental equilibrium.

Oddly, Horvitz didn't mention that he thought it strange that the box wasn't quite TV-shaped.

Still, when he saw what was inside, he immediately called the police -- who were, as Horvitz told MyFoxDC, "a little confused at first, they've never seen anything quite like it."

Horvitz could see, once he opened it, that the package was actually destined for a gun shop in Pennsylvania. It did, though, have his name and address on the shipping label.

Even more troubling was that the package had been left on his doorstep. Who knows what sort of neighbor or passer-by might have picked it up?

The police immediately took control of the weapon, as it is illegal in D.C.

I have contacted Amazon to see how this might all have occurred and will update, should I hear.

One can only hope that all Amazon customers and its third-party vendors might just be checking their boxes and labels a little more carefully today. Some might imagine that this is one more example of how this gun thing seems far too easy in the U.S.