Starting with a Daily Beast article early Tuesday morning, about the popular photo-sharing application Instagram (now owned by Facebook) being used to facilitate gun sales, anti-gun extremists have been shrieking their "sky is falling" hysteria to anyone who will listen. From the New York Daily News, for example:
The online market is the Wild West to gun control advocates, who say it’s ripe for exploitation by those who want to avoid background checks.
Because, as everyone knows, "Wild West" history is replete with accounts of people arranging gun sales via the internet. The article goes on to quote a Justice Department spokeswoman:
There’s no federal law regulating private gun sales on Instagram, or anywhere online, said Department of Justice spokeswoman Allison Price.
She called the “ready availability of firearms through social media” another avenue for unlicensed sellers to transfer guns anonymously.
One might be forgiven for wondering if perhaps Ms. Price is simply miffed that it was not her own Cabinet-level department that found another way to get guns to Mexican drug cartels.
The Daily Beast article mentioned above quotes the Law Center to Prevent Violence (who, remember, claim to have dispatched any Constitutional objection to confiscation of guns). They, despite admitting a lack of knowledge about gun sales facilitated by Instagram, know they don't like them:
“We are definitely concerned about the public safety implications of unregulated online gun sales, primarily the ability of sellers to skirt background checks and trafficking in firearms—both legal and illegal guns—to prohibited persons,” says Sam Hoover, a staff attorney with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing comprehensive legal expertise in support of gun violence prevention & smarter gun laws, who expressed an unfamiliarity with the specific firearms sales happening on Instagram.
Yesterday, the NY Daily News followed up with a report that two New York state legislators are already trying to close the "Instagram loophole":
New York state politicians launched an online campaign Wednesday calling on social media giants to change user policies and thwart the sale of guns without background checks.
A day after the Daily News reported popular sites have become open markets for weapons sales, Assembly members Brian Kavanagh (D-Manhattan) and Michelle Schimel (D-Nassau County) urged Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to protect public safety.
Sometimes the responsible people, the law abiding people, have to give up some of their liberty to make sure for [sic] the public safety of all.
She, in fact, wants the people to "give up some sense":
Unfortunately, there are criminals out there who will not obey the laws, but at the same token [sic], you have to give up some sense for the greater good.
Support for her agenda would certainly require giving up one's sense, alright.
As this column noted in the past, this anguished bleating about the mythical "internet sales loophole" is sheer theater--and bad theater at that:
In the end, there is no "internet gun sale loophole." Gun sales arranged online are subject to every state, federal and local law imposed on every other gun sale in the same jurisdiction. The internet's only role is in facilitating potential buyers finding potential sellers.
Instagram is not a marketing site. No money from the transaction goes through--or to--Instagram. People simply post photos, and sometimes that leads to interested buyers encountering interested sellers. To ban that would be to ban talking about gun sales.
If talking about selling guns can be banned on Instagram, or anywhere else on the internet, what logical distinction remains as an obstacle to banning such discussion everywhere?