Facebook Agrees to Take Down Gun Postings

In a recent move to impose stricter restrictions on gun sales, Facebook and Instagram recently announced they would be taking down postings for gun sales. Specifically, they will not allow anyone without a background checks to sell firearms through their social media sites. This comes as part of a larger effort to limit illegal gun sales. Both websites will prohibit minors from accessing any posts advertising or selling guns. In the wake of recent gun-related tragedies, gun safety advocates are turning to all possible avenues to prevent future gun crimes.

What Are The Gun Laws in California?

In California, all sales of firearms must take place through a licensed firearms dealer. Even where one owner is transferring a firearm to another owner, the transaction must take place through a dealer.   In turn, dealers are required to test the ability of the buyer or transferee to safely use and handle a handgun. This includes practices such as safely loading and unloading the bullets into a gun. Anyone convicted of a felony, drug addicts, and former mental patients cannot own a firearm. There are also strict parameters that limit the sale of assault weapons and associated parts or accessories. Any resident of California who owns a gun, or anyone who moves to California, is required to register the firearm with the respective state agency. New residents of the state have sixty days to satisfy this registration requirement. California does not recognize permits from any other state. Therefore, even if a recent resident has a permit for a firearm from another state, he or she must re-register the gun. However, several other states do recognize permits from California. Finally, all gun owners must have a Handgun Safety Certificate, which includes a written test that is valid for five years. The test includes laws regarding ownership, use, handing, and carrying of firearms.

Why Is Facebook Making This Policy Change?

Facebook, among others, has been under pressure from law enforcement agencies and groups in favor of gun control to take steps limiting the illegal sale of firearms. Specifically, Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America have been petitioning Facebook for over six weeks to make this policy change. There have been several instances of illegal gun sales through Facebook. A reporter for VentureBeat reported that it was able to arrange to buy a gun illegally through Facebook in fifteen minutes. The Wall Street Journal also reported that Facebook had posts for assault-weapon parts and concealed-carry weapon holsters. Part of this policy change includes relying on users to report posts that violate the new policy. A spokesman for Facebook indicated that it would review any such reports and remove posts which violate its new policy. Facebook will also display gun laws for users searching for guns on Instagram. Advocates for these changes explain that this policy shift may be the greatest step towards limiting illegal gun sales through social media networks. Craigslist, eBay, and Google already have policies in place to prohibit postings for weapon sales.

At our law firm, we provide guidance and legal expertise to help clients understand Internet and cyberspace laws. You may contact us to discuss with an attorney how policy changes dealing with social media networks affect you.