In response to a news report that the Storm Lake, IA, police department jailed a felon who tried to acquire a gun via Facebook from an undercover officer, Moms Demand Action Founder Shannon Watts released the following statement:
“American moms are so grateful to the Storm Lake Police for their strong undercover work that prevented a convicted felon – someone prohibited from owning firearms – from buying a gun through Facebook. The scary part is that it could just as easily have been an everyday gun seller on the other end of the transaction – and not an undercover cop. This sting operation shows how sites like Facebook make it very easy for criminals to end-run the law and get their hands on guns. It is long past time for Facebook to do the right thing and prohibit these sales on their site. Yesterday’s arrest is just the latest evidence that prohibited people are taking advantage of the opportunity Facebook creates for dangerous people to get their hands on guns.”
Moms Demand Action recently launched a campaign to call on Facebook and Instagram (owned by Facebook) to prohibit gun sales and trades on their site. Unlike other online platforms like Craigslist and Google+, Facebook and Instagram allow gun sales and trades – making them unregulated online marketplaces where felons, domestic abusers and other dangerous people can easily obtain firearms.
Moms also released a “closer look” video to riff on Facebook’s 10th anniversary “look back” videos that shows how Facebook makes it easy for guns to be bought and sold online – without criminal background checks. The video has been viewed more than 340,000 times and can be seen here: www.DemandAction.org/Facebook
The campaign has shed a light on the vast, unregulated market for private gun sales on the Internet, where transfers routinely occur without a background check – many initiated with posts on sites like Facebook and Instagram. Criminals are flocking to the internet to buy guns – a recent investigation by Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that 1 in 30 prospective gun buyers on Armslist.com had committed crimes that prohibited them from possessing guns.
The petition asking Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom has already received more than 50,000 signatures.