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Police Chiefs Respond to Major Moves by Facebook, Instagram to Prevent Illegal Gun Sales on Their Sites

March 5, 2014

New Policies Follow Moms’ Campaign – 230,000 Supporters Call On Companies to Stop Facilitating Illegal Sales to Minors, Felons and Other Dangerous Prohibited Gun Purchasers

mi11-JTkYbQW1C2VaeHODSO3RjPkM9iLJa3k8ynWZZAIn response to Facebook’s announcement today that the company and its popular photo-sharing subsidiary Instagram will take significant steps to block illegal firearm sales through their platforms, police chiefs from Chaska, MN and Gary, IN issued the following statements:

Former Chair of the International Association of Chiefs of Police Firearms Committee, and current Chaska, MN Police Chief Scott Knight:

“We in law enforcement are focused everyday on keeping people safe, and one way to do that is making sure illegal guns don’t get into the hands of dangerous people. When Moms Demand Action saw that people were using Facebook as a way to avoid background checks they started a campaign and brought attention to this serious issue. As a result of their efforts, Facebook is taking action and changing their policy. Their actions will help prevent people from arranging illegal gun sales on their site. I applaud Moms Demand Action for taking the lead and getting results, and commend Facebook for being responsive on this important public safety issue.”

Gary, IN Police Chief Wade Ingram:

“Gun sales in the 21st century have moved online, and that poses challenges for law enforcement to make sure buyers and sellers are obeying the law. I appreciate the work of Moms Demand Action to bring attention to this critical issue, and I commend Facebook for taking some sensible steps to prevent illegal sales.”

For the first time, Facebook will delete posts offering to buy or sell guns without background checks – a key indicator that users may be seeking to avoid the life-saving checks that bar minors, felons, the seriously mentally ill and other dangerous people from buying guns. The sites will also block users under the age of 18 from viewing gun sales posts from individual sellers and any pages used for gun offers. More information is available here.

The Facebook announcement follows a month-long campaign by Moms Demand Action that quickly drew more than 230,000 supporters who urged Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom to address the growing number of illegal gun sales facilitated by their networks. Direct negotiations took place between officials of Facebook and Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a bipartisan national coalition founded by former Mayors Michael Bloomberg and Thomas Menino. The moms and mayors’ groups merged in December 2013 to form the largest gun violence prevention organization in the United States. This is the second corporate victory for Moms Demand Action, which last year mounted a campaign on Starbucks that resulted in a statement by CEO Howard Schultz that guns were no longer welcome in his stores.

Read the full press release here

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