SAN FRANCISCO, March 5 Facebook Inc and
its photo sharing subsidiary, Instagram, will delete posts
offering to buy or sell guns without background checks, Facebook
announced on Wednesday.
In an effort to curb what gun control advocates say is the
increasing use of the social networks to circumvent checks and
controls on firearms sales, Facebook and Instagram will also bar
users under 18 from viewing gun offers posted by individuals or
"We will not permit people to post offers to sell regulated
items that indicate a willingness to evade or help others evade
the law," Facebook said.
The move by the world's largest social network and Instagram
may add fuel to an already intense debate over U.S. gun rights,
following a series of mass shootings across the country.
A spate of shootings in recent weeks across the United
States has renewed questions about the vulnerability of public
places like shopping centers and schools and sparked fresh calls
for stiffer gun controls such as universal background checks and
limitations on the sale of ammunition.
States like Connecticut and New York have passed a series of
new gun measures. But opponents, including the National Rifle
Association, the nation's leading gun rights lobby, argue that
tighter restrictions would unfairly limit the rights of
responsible gun owners.
PLEADING THE SECOND
Facebook said its policy change was made in consultation
with a number of individuals and organizations, including New
York state Attorney General Attorney Eric Schneiderman, Mayors
Against Illegal Guns, Sandy Hook Promise and Moms Demand Action,
which drew attention to loopholes on the Internet that allowed
private sales of firearms without background checks.
"Our campaign exposed how simple it is for dangerous people
to get their hands on guns, no questions asked - not only on
Facebook and Instagram - but across the Internet," Mayors
Against Illegal Guns Chairman John Feinblatt said in a joint
statement with Moms Demand Action.
"Unfortunately, the 'private sale loophole' allows anonymous
parties to sell guns without background checks, and there are
simply too many ways
On Wednesday, the NRA accused Mayors Against Illegal Guns of
previously trying to inhibit free expression on Facebook.
The groups "tried to pressure Facebook into shutting down
discussion of Second Amendment issues on its social media
platforms," said Chris Cox, executive director, NRA Institute
for Legislative Action.
"NRA members and our supporters will continue to have a
platform to exercise their First Amendment rights in support of
their Second Amendment freedoms."
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects
freedom of expression, as well as freedom of religion.
The Second Amendment says, "A well regulated militia, being
necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the
people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." Whether
the amendment protects an individual's right to own firearms or
solely a state's right to self-defense has been heavily debated.