Facebook pressured to crack down on gun sales

Nearly 3,500 Facebook users belong to Colorado Gun Trader, a group on the social media site that helps its members buy, sell and trade guns.

Is that legal? Yes. Do gun-control advocates want it that way? No. 

Two groups are pushing Facebook to crack down on gun sales on the site. And while Facebook doesn’t technically sell guns -- people can’t enter their credit card information on the site to buy one -- it can be used to put gun enthusiasts in touch with one another. 

Those connections are a little too much for Mayors Against Illegal Guns. The group, co-founded by former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, is working with another group called Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America to increase pressure on Facebook. The groups are also taking aim at Instagram, the photo-sharing site owned by Facebook. 

"Anybody can go to Facebook and Instagram and buy a gun online, and we’re urging Facebook to clamp down. We’re asking them to review their policies. They facilitate the sale of guns in the U.S.," said Erica Soto Lamb, a spokeswoman for Mayors Against Illegal Guns, according to VentureBeat

Facebook says it is listening to the groups, but hasn’t committed publicly to any action. The company told VentureBeat that it doesn’t allow advertisements for gun sales. 

It’s unclear exactly how many guns are bought and sold on Facebook. What the gun control groups particularly object to is the lack of background checks surrounding some of the sales.

Earlier this month, a 21-year-old Iowa man was arrested after attempting to trade weapons through Facebook. The man had arranged to make the deal with an undercover police officer. 

Facebook and Instagram aren’t the only sites coming under fire for connecting gun buyers and sellers. The online forum Reddit has been criticized for facilitating more than 150 such transactions in the last year. Guns are also easily bought on Craigslist.

  • Kim Peterson

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