Monday, February 1, 2016

The Unintended Consequence of Facebook's Gun Sale Ban

Who not to sell a gun to
Facebook’s move to ban private gun sales online actually has an unintended consequence that will make society less safe and exposes the deficiencies of background checks. The pervasiveness of social media, by invitation, into our personal lives provides an insight into the character of gun buyers that federal bureaucrats can only dream of. In an instant, anyone with permissions can judge the character of a potential gun buyer. Rather than a system that essentially says “sale not prohibited,” social media acts as a way to verify the human qualities a database can’t quantify.

Many Facebook sellers have decided to cancel sales based on what a potential buyer’s profile revealed about that person. For instance, admissions (and often pictures) of drug use, which makes the buyer a prohibited person and ineligible from possessing a firearm, is often found. While it is all so easy to lie about drug use on the background check form (ATF Form 4473), it’s very hard to lie on social media where the user revealed intimate details of their life, wrongly assuming damning facts may remain un-revealed.

Responsible private sellers, using Facebook, have been able to do what the impersonal NICS database can’t do; apply human judgment to objective data. Government databases are limited to relatively sterile information; a series of boxes marked “Do not pass go.” Many of the questions asked of prospective gun buyers can easily be lied to. Using drugs as metaphor, there is no national database of drug users, nor is a buyer subjected to a urine test at the gun store. Yet a private seller can see images of the buyer using marijuana or flashing gang signs, and cancel the sale.

While there are bad apples out there who will sell regardless of a buyer’s character, many gun dealers are crooked, but the majority honor the law. With all his wealth of info on our personal lives, Mark Zuckerberg and his team at Facebook haven’t been paying attention to the nature of gun groups. Most gun owners take their hobby extremely seriously and gun groups are largely self-policing. Dedicated gun exchange groups are generally staffed by attentive moderators. Members will quickly point out potentially criminal transactions and lambaste anyone foolish enough to violate established protocol.

By no means am I encouraging use of social media as a background check too, but for personal peace of mind, it is a way to judge whether or not one might want to business with another. In our large, impersonal society, the self-admissions made on social media have become the modern day equivalent of reputation and word of mouth. The relationships cultivated online and a safe forum, subject to the scrutiny of other group members, adds an additional layer of security that less personal services like Armslist lack.

Banning private sales on Facebook will hardly make a dent in private gun sales. Users will simply migrate to other places like the bulletin board sites that were popular before Facebook dominated our online interactions. Yet Facebook’s actions, arguably done at the behest of the White House, did the nation, and not just gun owners, a disservice. Gun owners will just take their traffic elsewhere, to social networks like MeWe that doesn’t spy on its users and sell their data. This move is already spawning American ingenuity to kick and create alternative venues. Who knows? This could be a good blessing in disguise driving innovation.

21 comments:

  1. Not my experience on gun groups and Facebook. Problem is some people hide who they are. A cousin of mine doesn't look like a criminal on Facebook but he has been arrested several times.

    You should always do a back ground check and you can still check out there Facebook just keep in mind people lie and hide

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    1. Often times people will run searches to see criminal history as well. It is all public information. In my experience, if someone is found to be a felon they are kicked from any reputable group.

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    2. Often times people will run searches to see criminal history as well. It is all public information. In my experience, if someone is found to be a felon they are kicked from any reputable group.

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    3. It just doesn't matter as long as you use FFL's for transfers. You can look like a saint and still be an axe murder, but it just don't count for anything on your
      facebook account.

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  2. if you dont have a felony on your record it's no one's businesses what your back ground is you can't judge a book by it's cover.......

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    1. Perhaps not, but drug use precludes owning a firearm, so in that instance, you CAN judge the book...

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  3. Totally true! Most of all the gun groups have already migrated to MeWe and the numbers will increase into the millions. FB made a very big Un American mistake.

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  4. Too bad Facebook is finalizing a deal to buy MeWe as we speak.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. It's not true. Just a troll article meant to mess with people's minds. Almost got me until I started to do a bit more research.

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  5. I have been on gun hobby groups for years now and what the white house does not want you to know is that the majority of all sales transactions are done through local dealers. For some reason they want people to think that a gun is purchased and sent directly to someone with out a background check. The reality is that all sellers I have worked with have requested my local FFL to ship a gun to where the background check happens. This is the norm not the exception in online interstate sales. When people ask me to not use an FFL I wouldn't sell to them. Shouldn't the goal be to encourage abiding by the law not stopping the sales?

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  6. Great article, I ran one of the largest groups in TN until Obamabook decided to remove it. We looked out for one another. If we saw bad behavior in other groups, we reported to other admins, if we saw something on posted by a person that shouldn't own a firearm, we removed them and passed the word. If we saw a name in the paper who was wanted in connection with a felony, we removed them and passed the word just to be safe. Now we just have the newspaper to look at the classified sections, or a trader paper and hope we aren't about to get robbed or sell to a felon.

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  8. Spot on article! We've been.very dedicated to keeping groups to limited numbers, and our largest groups have had well in excess of 2000 BLOCKED people due to their illegal activities and their backgrounds. MeWe doesn't allow us to look at people's lives and it's MUCH harder to decipher whether theyre ok or not. The main thing, is FB being as discriminating as they are, yet they still allow pages and groups dedicated to drugs, child pornography, gangs, extreme violence, and well over 100 Isis recruitment groups/pages.
    FB has even removed business pages, ffl pages and groups, and even one of our most important groups: gun page administrator groups, where we share info regarding illegal.activity and criminal elements in our gun groups. This was absolutely KEY in making sure our groups were well within the laws and regulations.
    Now that many have moved to meWE and other media outlets, it's become extremely difficult to find out who someone is and what they do in their free time that makes them a good or bad candidate for gun sales. Facebook has made an incredible, large, major, and irreversible mistake. We ALL will see the consequences in the days and weeks to come...

    ReplyDelete
  9. Spot on article! We've been.very dedicated to keeping groups to limited numbers, and our largest groups have had well in excess of 2000 BLOCKED people due to their illegal activities and their backgrounds. MeWe doesn't allow us to look at people's lives and it's MUCH harder to decipher whether theyre ok or not. The main thing, is FB being as discriminating as they are, yet they still allow pages and groups dedicated to drugs, child pornography, gangs, extreme violence, and well over 100 Isis recruitment groups/pages.
    FB has even removed business pages, ffl pages and groups, and even one of our most important groups: gun page administrator groups, where we share info regarding illegal.activity and criminal elements in our gun groups. This was absolutely KEY in making sure our groups were well within the laws and regulations.
    Now that many have moved to meWE and other media outlets, it's become extremely difficult to find out who someone is and what they do in their free time that makes them a good or bad candidate for gun sales. Facebook has made an incredible, large, major, and irreversible mistake. We ALL will see the consequences in the days and weeks to come...

    ReplyDelete
  10. When emotion is involved, facts and logic go right out the window!

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