Sites aim to end illegal gun sales

Social media sites announce new gun sale restrictions

Author: Adrienne Moore, Weekend anchor, reporter, amoore@wjxt.com
Elizabeth Berry, Evening assignment manager, beth@wjxt.com
Published On: Mar 05 2014 09:04:59 PM EST   Updated On: Mar 06 2014 12:03:49 AM EST
Facebook cracks down on guns
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Social media sites Facebook and Instagram are cracking down on what they're allowing to be posted about guns.

The social media sites announced Wednesday that they'll be cracking down on posts about guns and gun sales to reduce the chances of illegal gun sales on either platform.

Facebook has agreed to block all users under the age of 18 from seeing posts of gun sales and to start allowing users to flag posts that promote potentially illegal gun sales. Facebook said it will also delete any of the posts that describe illegal sales.

For groups like Moms Demand Action, it's a major step in the right direction and a way to keep guns from getting into the wrong hands.

"There was a 15-year-old who was able to purchase a gun and then be able to take it to school with him -- without anyone having any knowledge because he got it on Facebook," said Florida Chapter leader of Moms Demand Action Chryl Anderson.

While Anderson applauds the decision by the social media company to make changes, lead counsel for Florida Carry, Eric Friday, doesn't see how anything will change.

"It's not really going to change anything. People will just go to another venue on the Internet," said Friday.

In the next few weeks, Facebook and Instagram will begin deleting gun sale posts, and pages that offer gun sales across state lines will be prohibited. Administrators of pages promoting gun sales will also be required to put gun sale information into their "about" section on their Facebook pages.

"We do consider this a victory. It's the first step. It's a step forward," said Anderson.

On Instagram, users will get a notification requiring them to acknowledge gun sale laws before they can go any further with their search.

"This is not Moms Demand Action to stop illegal gun sales; this is Moms Demand Action to get rid of guns," said Friday. "Are their demands to Facebook going to change anything? Not really. There's still going to be people using websites and using the Internet to make connections between buyers and sellers."

A number of petitions challenging the new Facebook and Instagram policies are already starting to circulate online. Gun control advocates believe a strong stance is necessary, pointing to recent gun-related tragedies as proof that the move is the right step toward keeping our community and nation safe.

"We're all for the Second Amendment. We're all for responsible gun owners, but there needs to be some checks in place," said Anderson. "Just look at what is going on in our society right now and how easy a simple argument is turning into death. We need to take some steps to change that."