According to reports, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s
Mayors Against Illegal Guns along with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense
in America have joined forces in urging Facebook and other social
websites to place tougher restrictions on gun-related content.
“We recently began conversations with Facebook about what they can do
to end the easy access to guns on its platform — because until they do,
they are taking the risk that they are facilitating the illegal sale of
guns on their social network,” Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand
Action for Gun Sense in America, said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times
“American moms are the No. 1 demographic on Facebook — and we don’t
want guns sold into dangerous hands on the same site where we post our
And, according to the newspaper, officials at Facebook are currently looking at new ways to address gun-related content.
“We are talking with a number of organizations around our policies on guns,” a Facebook spokesman said.
The anti-gun groups’ push to increase scrutiny on pro-gun pages and
posts on social networking sites comes on the heels of reports that guns
purchased via connections made on the sites have been used in crimes.
An investigation conducted by the blog VentureBeat last month exclaimed, “Buying a gun on Facebook takes 15 minutes.”
Even in their names, the Facebook fan pages make no
attempt to hide what their real purposes are: Firearms Only Alamogordo,
Guns for Sale, I Love Guns, and even Guns, Ammo & Blades.
The pages have hundreds of thousands of “likes” and members. While
many of the sales are no doubt legitimate — federal law governing gun
transactions between individuals are fairly lax — hooking up with
illicit buyers and sellers via these pages is easy. For instance, you
can buy automatic weapons without a permit, guns with their serial
numbers filed off, and weapons that may be prohibited by your state’s
laws. If you’re under 18, you can buy a handgun, which federal law
On Tuesday, a VentureBeat reporter and his colleague spent less than
15 minutes arranging to buy a semiautomatic 7mm rifle and 90 rounds of
ammunition from a guy named “Dave,” a member of Facebook “Firearms Only
Alamogordo” fan page (left).
VentureBeat made contact through the fan page, and in the ensuing SMS
chat, Dave expressed an eagerness to do the deal. The gun was in good
condition, he explained.
When a VentureBeat reporter asked Dave if they needed to bring
identification to complete the sale, his response was an immediate “no.”
Neither Facebook nor Instagram operate as online sales platforms.
Furthermore, Facebook already bans ads that promote the sale and use of
weapons and ammunition.
“You can’t buy things on Instagram and Facebook, nor can you promote
the sale or use of weapons in advertising. We encourage people who come
across any illegal activity to report it to us,” a Facebook spokesman
told the Times.
It could be that the anti-gun groups’ true mission is not to ensure
that the proper safeguards are in place to discourage the buying and
selling of firearms between private parties networking on the sites, but
to make it more difficult for Americans who are pro-2nd Amendment to find vehicles for their message.
Currently, a Facebook page called Guns Save Lives
has more than 141,000 “likes,” Gun Owners of America
has more than 301,000 and NRA News
has upwards of 327,000 “likes.” Making it harder for social network
users to “like” organizations such as these few examples of gun groups
or to impede content relaying the enjoyment of shooting sports and
self-defense benefits of firearm ownership would undoubtedly spell a
major victory for the anti-firearm