Facebook Tries to Stamp Out Gun Sales

People had been using site to dodge background checks
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 30, 2016 7:52 AM CST
Facebook Bans Private Gun Sales
The Facebook page of the Utah Gun Exchange.   (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

Facebook left the NRA scrambling to find the "dislike" button on Friday when it announced a major crackdown on gun sales. The move, which also applies to Instagram, bans users from advertising or selling guns in person-to-person sales, reports Reuters. Licensed gun dealers and clubs can still advertise on Facebook, but any transactions that follow will have to take place somewhere else. Gun-control groups had complained that private sales on the site allowed people to avoid background checks. Facebook "was unfortunately and unwittingly serving as an online platform for dangerous people to get guns," Shannon Watts of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America tells the AP.

Watts tells the New York Times that her group has uncovered numerous cases of felons and minors buying guns via the site and she met with Facebook officials several times over the last two years, saying: "Please stop the unfettered access to guns on Facebook." "Over the last two years, more and more people have been using Facebook to discover products and to buy and sell things to one another," a Facebook exec said in a statement, explaining that the regulated goods policy is being changed to "reflect this evolution." The Times reports that Facebook says it will rely on its users to report any violation of the new gun policy in posts or in private messaging, which it does not monitor. (In 2014, Facebook banned under-18s from viewing posts about gun sales.)

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