Criminals Exploit Facebook to Sell Guns

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posted on April 13, 2019
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Anti-gun activists seeking to infringe on our Second Amendment rights fail to realize that social media platforms such as Facebook have become marketplaces where criminals illegally buy, sell and trade firearms.

While law-abiding gun customers purchase firearms from legitimate gun sellers and obey rules, others with deviant ways of thinking use social-media platforms to hawk weapons to criminals and other suspicious individuals. 

Some underhanded minds allegedly have used Facebook like a virtual pawnshop to develop illegal social-media gun trafficking operations that court documents have described as including:

  • One-stop-shopping for drugs and firearms,
  • Firearms brokerage services for gang members, and
  • A virtual gun store.

Some of the characters alleged to be responsible for these acts have found themselves on the wrong side of the law.

In Indiana, a man ran afoul of federal law enforcement agents for allegedly creating a series of promotional Facebook video “commercials” for months. The alleged ads showcased marijuana and guns. According to court documents, the man was prohibited from having firearms and was an alleged drug user with a previous domestic violence conviction.

He is accused of posting videos while smoking marijuana with “handgun and a gun’s drum magazine on his lap” before he “allegedly displays a mini Draco AK-47-type firearm.” A criminal complaint lists numerous videos of him appearing to advertise firearms and marijuana.

One Facebook Live video purported to show him in his home “displaying a Glock handgun, with a drum magazine and laser beam, and a black handgun as he smoked what appeared to be a marijuana.” A couple of weeks later the man was accused of posting “an apparent promo trade offer for Glock handguns, in which someone commented, ‘That's a deal Oml.’”

Federal agents executed a search warrant at the man’s home in March, reportedly seizing “suspected crack cocaine packaged for distribution, three firearms, marijuana and a backpack containing a Beretta pistol, a Glock with an extended magazine and two drum magazines loaded with ammunition.”

Elsewhere, Facebook also played a key role in an apparent online gun trafficking scheme in Chicago, in which an estimated 90 firearms were allegedly sold and delivered to local gang members and drug dealers.

One man is accused of being a middleman on Facebook to broker weapons to fellow gang members. Photos were allegedly posted of “handguns with extended clips and laser sights, military-style rifles and machine pistols.” In one transaction, the man was accused of sending “ a photo of nine handguns, an AR rifle and a bag filled with ammunition to a known gang member along with a price of $2,000” After the gang member balked at the cost, the man “renegotiated a deal for six of the handguns—a conversation that was all captured on Facebook, the charges alleged.”

In our nation’s capital—where gun-control advocates rally for new laws to restrict the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners—one convicted felon found himself facing a judge on charges related to illegal sales of guns and ammunition on Facebook.

According to the FBI, the man allegedly “was running a virtual gun store on social media.”

“It’s very disturbing. The problem that we have with violence crime in the city, I have said it over and over again, is illegal firearms,” said D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham. “If somebody is purchasing a firearm through the internet, it’s just as disturbing to me if somebody was to pull up and sell a gun out of the trunk of their car.”

It is impossible to prevent people from connecting on social media, including criminals.

Those who believe the majority of today’s criminals walk into legitimate gun shops to obtain firearms are mistaken. Criminals are using new technologies to carry out illicit transactions.

It is a fact that lawbreakers do not obey laws, but exploit loopholes in healthy legal systems—and ordinary social media platforms—to carry out illegal and shady activities.

That said, how would gun control activists propose to control the problem of illegal gun sales taking place online on sites such as Facebook?

Law enforcement has been trying to tackle the problem of online crime prevention for years. There is no easy or one-size-fits-all solution.

Advocating the passage of new laws to stop people who already break them will achieve nothing.

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