At a stage when gun culture is on the rise, and when legislation isn’t yet quite up to it, Facebook and Instagram have decided to crack down on gun sales on their sites through new stringent rules. The duo has shown clear intent to curb the menace of gun culture in a society littered with ghastly incidents of gun violence, in spite of agitations and protests by gun control groups.
Incidents of gun violence have happened with alarming regularity because those looking to sell and purchase guns found a safe place to transact– social media sites. Online gun market has thrived and stayed out of reach for the long hand of the law till date. After the Sandy Hook Elementary School incident involving display of the ugly gun culture at its worst, Moms Demand Action was formed to address the issue of gun control and it led the movement against the gun sales on social networking sites like Facebook.
The news announcing the new rules by Facebook and Instagram is a small but significant triumph of the clamor against the ever growing gun culture. As against the weak law and its weaker implementation that calls for customary background checks in 15 states for private sales, this move would, if not eradicate, curb the unbridled marketing and sales of guns via online portals to an extent.
Facebook’s newly framed rules don’t allow posts that the seller will work his way around to help the buyer to get away from the background check or to sell in a way that bypasses the process of going through a federally-licensed dealer mandatory for sale across states. New rules would also prohibit users under 18 to view any pages where marketing of guns is likely. Users would find notifications about relevant laws on the pages on which guns are on sale.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the man who facilitated the negotiation with Facebook, termed the new rules a “really significant breakthrough deal” and “probably the strongest step taken ever to end [illegal guns sales] on social media sites.”
Statistics stresses the gravity of the situation better. There’re six million gun sales transacted every year without mandatory background checks and importantly, a significant part of it is realized through social media and online platforms. Conventional sites like gun shows are a thing of the past; social media platforms are the gold mine of gun sales. Moreover, there’re 35 states that don’t require a background check and let it be said that Facebook isn’t the only place for the gun sales.
However, this tiny step shouldn’t be underrated and should be given its due in the nasty battle for gun control. Facebook and Instagram have shown character in introducing these new rules that address the illegal sales of guns online. The fact that they’ve framed new rules is reflective of the beginning of a change for which other players in social media may follow suit.