With Congress refusing to act on instituting background checks to address the epidemic of guns sold to people who go on to commit horrific crimes, two New York State Assemblymembers, Michelle Schimel and Brian Kavanagh, are calling on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to change their user policies to ban the sale of guns without background checks. The legislators also launched an online petition campaign so others can join them in asking the social media companies to take this important step.
“Social media should not be marketplaces for gun sales without background checks. These sites were created to connect users, not to facilitate irresponsible and dangerous practices," Schimel and Kavanagh said in their petition.
“Too many guns are sold without background checks. A large majority of Americans believe this should be illegal, but Congress and many state legislatures have refused to pass sensible laws to require background checks. We're calling on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to act responsibly and change their user policies to not allow their sites to be used for the unregulated sales of firearms without background checks.”
Assemblymembers Schimel and Kavanagh are both Co-Chairs of New York State Legislators Against Illegal Guns.
Read the petition:
There are 11 million guns sold in a year in the US, and some estimates put 40% of them beyond the range of background checks required when purchased through dealers, but when guns are purchased at gun shows and online.
"When New York City took a look at the online gun marketplace in 2011, it found more than 25,000 weapons for sale on just 10 websites, making the internet a significant component of gun industry. The report suggested that the internet sales were likely tied to a fair amount of crime," Stephanie Mencimer reported in her Mother Jones article, "Want to Buy a Gun Without a Background Check? Armslist Can Help"
Facebook is not an e-commerce site, but draws revenue from directing ads to members who have expressed interest in categories. Facebook had no comment on the petition, but a spokesman referred us to its advertising guideline which rejects any advertising of guns or weapons: "Ads may not promote the sale or use of weapons, ammunition, or explosives."
At presstime we were awaiting comment from Yahoo and Instagram.
Karen Rubin, Long Island Populist Examiner
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