Two New York assemblymembers are calling on social media companies to ban gun sales without background checks. The legislators say the sites are being used as marketplaces for such sales, but a state firearms advocacy group says it’s a non-issue.
Democratic Assemblymembers Brian Kavanagh and Michelle Schimel have launched an online petition urging social media companies to change their user policies. Here’s New York City’s Kavanagh:
He notes that because of the SAFE Act, the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, it is illegal to sell or transfer a gun in New York State without a background check, with minor exceptions relating to families. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in January signed the SAFE Act in response to the December 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Again, here’s Kavanagh.
Jacob Rieper is vice president of legislative and political affairs for the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association.
A spokesman for Facebook declined to comment, referencing only the site’s advertising policies, which say ads may not promote the sale or use of weapons, ammunition, or explosives. A Twitter spokesman also just referenced the site’s advertising policy, which bans ads for firearms, ammunition, and accessories. Facebook owns the photo-sharing site Instagram.
Kavanagh says recent articles in the print media, starting with the New York Daily News, prompted his concern.
The article reports that Instagram has become an unregulated, online marketplace for gun sellers and buyers. Kavanagh says the sites’ officials should share in his concern.
He says the petition effort, also on Facebook and Twitter, has drawn comments in opposition.
He says given gun control is a controversial topic, he expects additional comments against the petition. Kavanagh and Nassau County’s Schimel are co-chairs of New York State Legislators Against Illegal Guns.
Since posting the petition at change.org last week, the petition has garnered 289 supporters. In addition to the petition, Kavanagh says he and Schimel had plans to contact company officials directly.