Facebook bans private gun sales -- no, that doesn't violate your 2nd Amendment rights
While many people view Second Amendment defenders as gun nuts, the truth is, that isn't always the case. A good example? Me. While I am a life member of the NRA, firearms don't really thrill me. No, I get my jollies from computers and technology. My interest in Second Amendment protection is mostly constitutional -- I don't want to see any of my fellow Americans' rights get trampled.
Today, Facebook announces that it is banning private gun sales on its site (and Instagram). Of course, some folks will see this as an attack on the Second Amendment, and maybe even the First Amendment. The truth of the matter is, neither your freedom of speech nor your right to bear arms are impacted by Facebook's decision. Why? Because the social network is not a public or government place. Facebook has the right to determine its own policies.
I reached out to Facebook for more information. A spokesperson for the company told me the following.
Today we are updating our policies for managing regulated goods to prohibit people from using Facebook to offer and coordinate private sales of firearms. This policy already prohibits people from offering marijuana, pharmaceuticals, and illegal drugs for sale.
The updated policy aligns more closely with our policies around commerce and advertising, which place similar restrictions on advertisements of regulated goods including pharmaceuticals, illegal drugs, and firearms.
This policy update focuses on private or 'peer-to-peer' sales of weapons, not weapons that are being sold in stores or off Facebook through online, licensed retailers. Licensed firearm retailers will still be able to post about their goods and services on Facebook while completing sales transactions off Facebook.
We have systems in place to review and remove content that violates our terms of service and advertising that is false, deceptive, or misleading.
There you go folks, only peer-to-peer sales are impacted by this decision. This means licensed businesses can continue to leverage the social network to advertise firearms. Heck, individuals can still post pictures of themselves with guns, discuss guns, and even post videos of themselves at a shooting range.
Quite frankly, this is a smart and responsible move on Facebook's part. There has been a lot of gun violence lately, and private sales on the site could elude police or other investigators. Will the private sales ban stop all gun violence? No. But at least it means one less way for bad guys to purchase guns under the radar.
Job well done, Facebook.