Sneaky House bill would leave online gun companies vulnerable to lawsuits

AP Photo/Michael Conroy

Big tech has been enjoying protections under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and to be perfectly honest, they’ve been abusing those protections. The First Amendment online, is so closely tied to the Second Amendment, in that most Second Amendment related expressions or communications are constantly vulnerable to censor from any internet service provider, social media company, etc. Hiding behind 230, leaving themselves free from tort, these companies get away with playing arbitrator of truth, while targeting industries and opinions they find disagreeable. Members of Congress want to add insult to injury. A bill introduced a couple of weeks ago seeks to remove those protections for any internet company/provider etc. doing “gun stuff”. H.R.7819 – Accountability for Online Firearms Marketplaces Act of 2022 would remove online firearm retailers, so-called “marketplaces”, from section 230 protections.

Congressman Jason Crow from Colorado most courageously introduced the bill with some of his equally courageous cohorts:

Rep. Jason Crow (CO-06), a Vice Chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, was today joined by Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08), Rep. Katie Porter (CA-45), and Rep. Haley Stevens (MI-11) in introducing a new gun violence prevention measure in the wake of eight mass shootings across the US in just 72 hours. The Accountability for Online Firearms Marketplaces Act is a commonsense measure that cracks down on unlicensed gun sales on online marketplaces, ensuring these marketplaces no longer enjoy blanket immunity and can be brought to justice for violations of the law.

The introduction of this legislation comes on the heels of a horrific weekend of eight shootings across the United States that left at least 65 people shot, 17 fatally, in the span of just 72 hours.The deadliest mass shooting of the year thus far occured this weekend in a racially-motivated attack in Buffalo. One of the attacks also occurred at a church in Laguna Woods, CA (in Congresswoman Porter’s district).

Okay, well, we don’t want firearms to get in the hands of dangerous criminals, do we? Of course not. Let’s look at the bill and what’s inside it that Crow so artfully crafted for our own protection. The following provision highlights who would no longer be granted the same protections as everyone else on the internet:

(3) TREATMENT OF PUBLISHER OR SPEAKER DOES NOT APPLY TO ONLINE FIREARMS MARKETPLACE.—Paragraph (1) shall not apply to an online firearms marketplace, for purposes of any claim in an action brought against the online firearms marketplace in its capacity as an online firearms marketplace.”; and

(2) in subsection (f), by adding at the end the following:

“(5) ONLINE FIREARMS MARKETPLACE.—The term ‘online firearms marketplace’ means an interactive computer service that—

“(A) facilitates transactions related to firearms, firearms accessories, firearms equipment, and other firearms-related materials;

“(B) advertises or makes available any posting or listing of any statement by a transferor or by a transferee that could be reasonably inferred to propose the transfer of a firearm; or

“(C) makes digital instructions in the form of Computer Aided Design files or other code that can automatically program a 3-dimensional printer or similar device to produce a firearm or complete a firearm from an unfinished frame or receiver,

regardless of whether such transactions or other activities violate the terms of service of the interactive computer service.

Let’s review one line there as it tells us most of what we need to know, with the rest being bonus infringements; “facilitates transactions related to firearms, firearms accessories, firearms equipment, and other firearms-related materials.”

What would meet that threshold? Every company that sells pistol rugs? Ammunition? Guns? You name it and these companies would be left vulnerable to being sued, no longer having the section 230 protections. What if someone designs a cool target that they want to share online? Would they be held liable for whatever concocted reason a funded lawsuit from the anti-freedom caucus dreams up? The possibilities and ramifications are endless. That has nothing to do with these “marketplaces”, does it?

Crow was sure to include from removal of protections anyone hosting Computer Aided Design files etc. that could be used to 3D print a firearm. That also has nothing to do with what these jackals say they’re seeking to do.

What did Crow drool out of his mouth about this champion of public safety he’s introduced?

“As a combat veteran, I have a healthy respect for firearms. But military-grade weapons have no place in our communities and on our streets. If we don’t close loopholes in our gun safety laws and let unlicensed sales of weapons like assault rifles go unchecked, these horrific attacks will keep happening,” said Rep. Crow. “As a Vice Chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing another key pillar in a slate of commonsense reforms to protect our families and put a stop to the gun violence epidemic.”

This legislation hides behind the possibility of someone buying a firearm privately, and them potentially being a prohibited person. In reality, the bill clearly does much more than advertised in their misleading garbage of a press release.

Crow, his cronies in the Senate; Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and other House members mentioned, are all part of the machine that wishes to dismantle anything related to firearms. This bill, like many introduced, is being done so to give these treacherous humans a reason to pat each other on the back, say “look, I’m hashtag doing something”, while simultaneously setting the stage for the law to be weaponized against anyone hosting anything on the internet related to firearms. Like all freedom squishing bills, we’ll be watching the progress of this one, and reporting back with any updates.