Web Story

WEB STORY

FACEBOOK MARKETPLACE GUN SALES LOOPHOLE

By: Chris Cella on December 7, 2021

  • Facebook Marketplace employs a legal loophole that permits users to buy and sell firearms.
  • These gun sales directly violate the Facebook Marketplace Terms and Conditions.
  • Facebook as a company and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg have been active proponents of increased gun control.
  • Gun store owners and others who become aware of this loophole are deeply concerned about the lack of background checks or any other safeguards in connection with firearm purchases.
  • Despite repeated reports to Facebook of these gun sales, we are aware of no action that has been taken.   

Lynchburg, VA – Tech giant Facebook, which several weeks ago changed its name to “Meta,” has recently found itself in hot water by virtue of whistleblower Congressional testimony revealing that Facebook has knowingly been engaging in practices that its own research demonstrates is highly harmful to the psychological health of young users, particularly adolescent girls. Entirely ignored during this and prior Facebook Congressional inquiries is Facebook’s permitting through semantic subterfuge the listing and sale of firearms on Facebook Marketplace.

The scheme operates through Facebook Marketplace permitting the listing of guns for sale without technically “listing” the gun. The seller will create a post with a picture of a gun case and label it “case” or “gun case,” The seller will make the price much higher than what a gun case alone would cost. This signals to buyers that there is more than just a case involved in the purchase. Once the buyer messages the seller, the seller reveals the reality that the sale includes a firearm. As you can see from the real-life examples below, once the buyer and seller are in a private conversation, the buyer is sent screenshots of the weapons for sale. Our investigation reveals that sellers list pistols, rifles, Kevlar vests, extended magazines, and even large-caliber guns used in warfare commonly referred to as artillery.  

Our team made Facebook aware of this abusive practice in 2018 when we reported these listings as violations of the Facebook Marketplace Terms and Conditions.  Facebook responded by claiming that the posts do not violate any of its terms and conditions. Each such listing brought to Facebook’s attention has elicited the same response from the tech giant, consistently concluding there is no violation.  

We had the opportunity to sit down with an individual, Hunter Kurpier, who purchased a gun on Facebook Marketplace.  Mr. Kurpier commented, “It was very easy to buy the gun, maybe a little too easy…”  Mr. Kurpier also expressed concern that minors with access to Facebook could hypothetically purchase a gun as he did, but ultimately, he believes “…it should be the responsibility of the parents to ensure their kids are not buying guns online.”  

One local gun store owner with whom we spoke, Maynard Lawrence, expressed great concern about the lack of any regulation or background check when purchasing a gun on Facebook Marketplace.  Mr. Lawrence, the Manager at Lynchburg Arms, stated he was shocked by the revelation of the Facebook gun loophole.  “I don’t have a problem if someone buys a gun legally, with a background check and everything.  But if they’re not doing that, it’s a big problem.”  Mr. Lawrence went on to say, “Background checks are important because some people should not be allowed to buy a gun if they have mental health issues or a criminal record.”  Once again, this loophole makes it impossible to ensure that background checks are being conducted for these marketplace transactions because Facebook refuses to acknowledge the truth of the glaring loophole it continues to allow to exist.  

It is astonishing that Facebook has not taken any action to remedy or even address this dangerous situation, particularly given the conspicuous push for increased gun regulation by Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg.  Mark Zuckerberg’s stance on gun control is well-known and has been a cornerstone of his forays into the political arena.  Paradoxically, as Mr. Zuckerberg pushes for more gun control, his company continues to allow this gun loophole to exist. Not only is Facebook silent on the issue, but none of our political class seems to have any interest in it either. 

Investigative journalist and Editor-in-Chief of the Central Florida Post Jacob Engels had this to say about Facebook’s permitting gun sales through this artifice: “The fact that Facebook has taken such a hardline anti-gun stance publicly, while allowing their marketplace users to sell firearms online with none of their supported measures that limit gun ownership, is just another example of their hypocrisy.” Again, this loophole has been reported to Facebook multiple times with no action taken since this investigation began in the summer of 2018.