Oh, dear. Facebook has banned “gun sales” on its social media platform and photo-sharing site Instagram.
Facebook says it’s cracking down on online gun sales, announcing Friday a new policy barring private individuals from advertising or selling firearms on the world’s largest social network.
The new policy applies also to Facebook’s photo-sharing service Instagram. It comes after gun control groups have long complained that Facebook and other online sites are frequently used by unlicensed sellers and buyers not legally eligible to buy firearms.
Facebook “was unfortunately and unwittingly serving as an online platform for dangerous people to get guns,” said Shannon Watts of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a group that launched a public campaign to convince the social network to change its policies two years ago.
Watts said her group has found numerous cases of felons and minors who were able to buy guns on the site, including two cases in which the buyers used the guns to slay others. Representatives of two gun-owner rights groups, including the National Rifle Association, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The simple face of the matter is that this is nothing more or less than gun control theater, full of sound and fury, signifying very little, and may actually work in favor of gun rights.
“Online gun sales” were always a red herring. They simply do not exist, and never have. Here’s why.
- Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Pintrest and other social media sites are just beginning to add payment functionality. Previously, you could not directly purchase any item via these any of these sites, much less firearms.
- These sites only provided communications for offline, real-world transactions, the way Craig’s List does, or links off-site to another Web site with payment/cart functionality.
- Those sites with payment/cart functionality are almost exclusively Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs), who can take our money online and facilitate a firearms transfer (and remain unaffected by the Facebook rule change).
- Except for very rare and narrow range of exceptions, those FFL transfers must go to another FFL, who then will require the purchaser to show up in-person, with government-issued photo ID, fill out an ATF Form 4473, and undergo an FBI NICS background check before taking possession of a firearm.
In other words, this is much ado about nothing… except now that Moms Demand and other gun control groups have lost their lie about the “ease” of “online gun sales” from “unlicensed dealers” which was never a significant issue in the first place.
In other words…
Of course, criminals and prohibited persons will still find ways to illicitly acquire firearms, and will find other ways to use online communications to facilitate illegal transfers.
For example, before he was shot to death by George Zimmerman while attempting to beat that neighborhood watch volunteer to death, drug abuser and gun trafficker Trayvon Martin used simple cell phone text messaging to traffic in firearms, such as the one below, in an image pulled from his cell phone after he was shot. Simple texting apps are still the preferred method of digital communications among low-wattage criminals.
Criminals will still acquire the majority of their firearms through theft, smuggling, and other black market channels, along with straw purchases that the Obama Administration routinely refuses to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.
Curiously, you don’t hear Moms Demand, Everytown, and other gun control groups attacking this refusal to prosecute gun crimes by the Obama Administration. You might almost be left with the impression that Shannon Watts and Michael Bloomberg care less about stopping crime than they do law-abiding gun owners.