UPDATE: Facebook responds to blocking private gun sales on the social media site

Facebook announced today that it will block illegal sales on the website. More specifically, it will regulate sales between private sellers attempting to sell a firearm to a felon, minor or across state lines without an FFL.

“We will not permit people to post offers to sell regulated items that indicate a willingness to evade or help others evade the law,” said Monika Bickert, Facebook’s Head of Global Policy Management. “For example, private sellers of firearms in the U.S. will not be permitted to specify “no background check required,” nor can they offer to transact across state lines without a licensed firearms dealer.”

The social media company will implement a handful of new rules for Facebook and Instagram, such as:

  • Any time we receive a report on Facebook about a post promoting the private sale of a commonly regulated item, we will send a message to that person reminding him or her to comply with relevant laws and regulations. We will also limit access to that post to people over the age of 18.
  • We will require Pages that are primarily used by people to promote the private sale of commonly regulated goods or services to include language that clearly reminds people of the importance of understanding and complying with relevant laws and regulations, and limit access to people over the age of 18 or older if required by applicable law.
  • We will provide special in-app education on Instagram for those who search for sales or promotions of firearms.

The announcement comes after a push by Moms Demand Action and Mayors Against Illegal Guns calling for Facebook to end private sales on their platforms.

UPDATE 2:00 p.m. EST: The National Rifle Association issued this statement regarding the change in policy:

“The NRA enjoys 150 times more support on Facebook than Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns. That’s why Bloomberg and the gun control groups he funds tried to pressure Facebook into shutting down discussion of Second Amendment issues on its social media platforms,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director, NRA Institute for Legislative Action.

“Bloomberg failed,” Cox continued.  “NRA members and our supporters will continue to have a platform to exercise their First Amendment rights in support of their Second Amendment freedoms.

UPDATE 2:05 p.m. EST: Brady Campaign releases statement regarding Facebook policy changes, they argue the changes don’t go far enough.

“This new policy is not a victory because Facebook continues to makes it too easy for dangerous people to evade a background check when buying guns. A mere warning to follow the law and community-based reporting will not do enough to prevent unchecked gun sales to dangerous people,” says Daniel Gross, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

“As we and thousands of others have told Facebook, unlicensed gun sales have no place on the social network. Facebook should prohibit all posts that advertise the unlicensed sale or transfer of firearms in the United States. Sadly, it’s only a matter of time before a gun purchased through Facebook without a background check is used in a terrible tragedy. ”

UPDATE 2:55 p.m. EST: The National Shooting Sports Foundation released a statement regarding the change in policy:

“We are in agreement that all applicable laws should be observed in the private transfer of firearms. We would have welcomed the opportunity to provide our industry’s perspective, however, and regret that we were not consulted. Facebook’s clarification will not affect the lawful commerce in firearm and ammunition products for NSSF members and their customers.”

MAIG, Moms and Facebook held a press conference this afternoon. More information to come.