NYTimes: Facebook’s sensible ban on gun ads

Last week, the leading social media website Facebook said that it will prohibit the private sale of firearms on the platform and sistered site Instagram. The effort comes as the company tries to encourage new forms of commerce on the site and pressure from gun control groups that have made expanded background checks their cause. In an opinion piece by the editors, The New York Times applauded the effort by the social networking giant.

Facebook’s decision last week to prohibit private gun sales on its social networking site and on its photo-sharing app Instagram should make it harder for convicted felons and other dangerous people to acquire deadly weapons. That’s a very good thing, especially considering the unwillingness of lawmakers in Congress to enact sensible gun safety policies.

In recent years, Facebook has become a thriving marketplace where people buy and sell all kinds of goods and services, including firearms. People often post ads to buy or sell guns on the site and meet in person to complete the transaction. But unlike licensed dealers, private sellers are not required to conduct criminal background checks in most states, and Congress has refused to close this gaping loophole at the federal level.

It’s hard to say exactly how many posts offering to sell or buy guns exist on Facebook at any given time. But one recent study estimated that Facebook was the second most popular site for gun ads in the state of Nevada.That study was by Everytown for Gun Safety, a research and advocacy organization backed by Michael Bloomberg. Some of the guns sold on Facebook have been used in crimes. …

Read the full piece at The New York Times