U.S. Law Shield and Texas Law Shield, the largest legal-self-defense membership organizations in the country with more than 170-thousand members, responded to social-media-giant Facebook’s recent announcement that it is shutting down gun sales by individuals. Please see Midsouth Shooters Supply’s previous coverage of Facebook’s decision here.
“U.S. Law Shield and Texas Law Shield lawyers have reviewed Facebook’s recent announcement and the related media coverage, and have concluded that because Facebook is a private social website, it can have whatever policies it would like,” said Edwin Walker, a program attorney for U.S. Law Shield and Texas Law Shield based in Houston. “However, this action does speak to the general lack of knowledge about how legal gun sales, even by private individuals, are actually consummated in the United States.”
Walker quoted an Associated Press story describing Facebook’s move: “Facebook has announced a new policy barring private individuals from advertising or selling firearms on the world’s largest social network. The new policy applies also to Facebook’s photo-sharing service Instagram… Facebook had announced some restrictions on gun sales and advertising in 2014, saying it would block minors from seeing posts that advertised guns. But the social network did not ban private sales at that time… Also, licensed firearms retailers can still promote their businesses on Facebook, but they aren’t allowed to accept orders or make sales on the site.”
Walker said, “Anti-gun-rights groups, such as the Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence, who are quoted in the AP story, claim that ‘it’s too easy for anyone to buy any gun they want online without a NICS background check.’ In reality it is quite difficult, if you follow existing federal and state law.”
Walker explained that if individuals were to contact each other on Facebook or any other social-media system, a “sale” cannot be completed online — because the product cannot be delivered without the buyer going through a background check, in the vast majority of cases.
Walker pointed out that some elements of a transaction can occur — product description, promotion, price negotiation, even funds transfer. However, the firearm cannot be delivered to the buyer, unless both buyer and seller can meet face to face and are residents of the same state.
Otherwise, Walker explained, “If a gun goes into the UPS, Fedex, or U.S. Post Office delivery systems, it has to identified and shipped to a designated Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL). The receiving FFL is then required by federal law to run a NICS background check on the buyer, who must complete an ATF Form 4473, before the firearm can be physically delivered. An FFL would never risk his or her license, livelihood, and freedom by failing to do so. It’s already a felony for an FFL dealer not to run a NICS check prior to delivery, except in very limited circumstances, such as when the new buyer has a state-issued handgun license or permit that has been pre-approved by the ATF.”
“Effectively, the new Facebook policy is nothing more than a business regulating what happens on its premises,” Walker said. “Facebook is a private business, and we respect its ability to manage the business as the owners decide. So if they don’t want guns mentioned in commerce on their social-media platform, that’s their prerogative. But let’s be clear that what Facebook is actually regulating with this new policy is speech, pure and simple. The actual act of selling a firearm is highly regulated, even for private individuals. Facebook is only shutting down conversations between individuals because the subject matter is about guns, and nothing more.”
About U.S. Law Shield and Texas Law Shield
The U.S. Law Shield and Texas Law Shield Firearms Legal Defense Program is dedicated to preserving 2nd Amendment rights for all legal gun owners and ensuring legal representation for our members who ever have to use a firearm or any other lawful weapon in self-defense. Click for more information on USLawShield.com and Texaslawshield.com., or learn more at a GunLawSeminar.com.