There is something very, very wrong with society if you can arrange to buy an illegal, high-powered firearm through a social media network within 15 minutes. But then this is America, and GO GUNS!!!!
On Tuesday, a VentureBeat reporter and his colleague spent less than 15 minutes arranging to buy a semiautomatic 7mm rifle and 90 rounds of ammunition from a guy named “Dave,” a member of Facebook “Firearms Only Alamogordo” fan page (left).
VentureBeat made contact through the fan page, and in the ensuing SMS chat, Dave expressed an eagerness to do the deal. The gun was in good condition, he explained.
When a VentureBeat reporter asked Dave if they needed to bring identification to complete the sale, his response was an immediate “no.”
No financial transaction actually took place on Facebook, but the social media company responded to VentureBeat after it informed them of the interaction, saying: “You can’t buy things on Instagram and Facebook, nor can you promote the sale or use of weapons in advertising. We encourage people who come across any illegal activity to report it to us.”
We shouldn’t blame the medium for the sale, as pretty much any transaction could be set up through a Facebook/Instagram/Twitter account – it’s the enforcement of the law and general culture of permissiveness that needs to be examined. In the UK, selling weapons openly on Facebook would be akin to setting up a crack-cocaine page and freely arranging drug deals. It simply wouldn’t happen as it is completely illegal and punishable by prison. In contrast, the ease with which pretty much anyone can get hold of a lethal weapon in America is truly shocking. As the story continues:
Federal law governing gun transactions between individuals are fairly lax — hooking up with illicit buyers and sellers via these pages is easy. For instance, you can buy automatic weapons without a permit, guns with their serial numbers filed off, and weapons that may be prohibited by your state’s laws. If you’re under 18, you can buy a handgun, which federal law prohibits.
The reporter at VentureBeat reached out to The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to ask them about enforcement of the law in regards to sales through social media outlets, and an agent got back to them claiming that “We’re definitely taking it seriously.”
So seriously that not only is the “Firearms Only Alamogordo” page still up and running, this was posted literally hours after the story blew up on the internet:
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.