Moms Demand Action has been in talks with Facebook to make selling firearms via their site against user policy.
To that end, they created this ad:
If you are or have ever spent time with your average gun owner, you know that the producers of this video cherry picked and highlighted comments from the tiny percentage of creepers out there who make ridiculous statements on the very public and, incidentally, law enfrocment-observed forum that is Facebook. This video does not represent the vast majority of gun owners in the United States. In fact, it presents a picture that is the opposite of what we all know to be true: most (I’d go so far as to say almost ALL) gun owners are upstanding, law-abiding contributors to society. Need proof? See Billy’s video below.
So here are my questions:
1) Will this really stop the sale of guns on Facebook? I have worked on two documentaries on human trafficking. Trafficking people is, of course, illegal, but occurs at an unprecedented rate today. In speaking to law enforcement and investigators I learned that much of the trafficking is right under our noses on sites like Facebook and Craigslist. It is thinly veiled by codewords, but the monsters seeking to purchase other humans know exactly what to look for. Neither of these sites condone this activity, but it happens anyway. I’d like to posit that this action that MDA is so desperately pushing for won’t actually deter any illegal activity. It just forces those who would engage in it deeper underground, if at all.
2) What if we aren’t seeing how much this damages the ability of police to deter crime? So what if these people do decide to go underground. Does this objective actually make the job of cops and other law enforcement agencies harder? They don’t need a warrant to see threatening comments on Facebook. We all know the NSA is watching us anyway (hi there, guys). If they see red-flag words and phrases that alert law enforcement to this behavior or potential behavior*, isn’t that better for the good guys?
3) If private sales and transfers are actually prohibited on Facebook… then what? What social network do they go for next? Twitter? Instagram? Snapchat? And then are they beginning to push the boundaries on the 1st Amendment’s Freedom of Speech provision?
If you watch my friend Billy’s must-see video here, you’ll learn that less than 1/2 of 1% of Americans actually engage in illegal activity with a firearm. And if these offenders are talking about it online, isn’t finding them the best possible way to deter future acts of violence? I assume that MDA’s objective is to stem violence. It is, after all, part of their name. But this move doesn’t address violence or violent speech, which is already prohibited on Facebook. It is simply a move to circumvent the legal process and limit gun rights via the private sector.
The bottom line is that we all want to prevent gun violence, but is this really the way to do it?
What are your thoughts on the topic?
*(I am fully aware this is a very slippery slope and could be used against law abiding citizens. But for this statement, I am presuming the situation would involve perfectly democratic and constitution-honoring public servants.)