Facebook Posts New Rules for Gun Sales

By Brett Snider, Esq. on March 06, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Facebook is cracking down on posts for illegal gun sales, and other social media outlets may soon follow suit.

On Wednesday, Facebook announced that it would step up its enforcement efforts regarding gun sales on its social network -- especially when the seller is trying to evade the law.

What are Facebook's new rules for gun sales?

Stopping 'No Background Check' Gun Sales

Facebook's head of global policy management, Monika Bickert, laid out several "educational and enforcement efforts" that Facebook and Instagram would be implementing as part of a shift in policy.

Among those efforts is a prohibition against posting offers to sell firearms with "no background check required." Although there are some loopholes that allow private sales of guns without a background check, Bickert stated that Facebook will encourage users to follow the law.

Since there are no laws requiring background checks in these "loophole" private gun sales in most states -- more than 30 states to be exact, according to Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence -- Facebook may be requiring more of sellers than their states' laws might.

Facebook will also be cracking down on offers that support gun sales across state lines. These federal regulations on interstate gun transfers won out over challenges in federal court in February, and Facebook seems happy to side with them.

Not Just Guns, 'Regulated' Items Covered Too

Although Facebook's new rules are aimed at curtailing questionable gun sales, the new rules technically cover private sales of any "regulated items."

Surprisingly, some drug dealers have taken to social media to sell their illegal wares, and Facebook and Instagram have been popular venues. Despite the sale of pot being illegal (outside of a state-licensed retail center or medical marijuana distributor) in every state in the nation, Facebook's ad policy doesn't allow advertising for any "recreational" or illegal drugs.

While that may sound provincial to some, Facebook is a private company and can determine what types of content it chooses to host. When Facebook tackled hate speech last spring, it faced claims of First Amendment and free speech violations, and no doubt gun advocates will not be far behind.

Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, said he was not deterred by Facebook's new rules. Cox noted the NRA and its members "will continue to have a platform to exercise their First Amendment rights in support of their Second Amendment freedoms," reports Reuters.

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