Technology and children have an intrinsic relationship, they embrace it often far more quickly than adult consumers. Sadly, with the fallout of yet another shooting involving middle-schoolers, the ease with which young people could get their hands on a gun is at the forefront of Americans’ minds.
With macabre synergy, The Daily Beast reports that Instagram, a photography-based social media network, has become the latest online market for firearms. Individuals will post firearms or ammunition that they are looking to sell and either negotiate in the comments or use a third-party service like Hashbang.
While there are a number of regulations gun stores must adhere to, those regulations aren’t nearly as stringent when the sale is taking place between two individuals. Recent gun control legislation in the Senate would have, according to The New York Times, required “background checks be conducted through federally licensed dealers on all Internet and gun show sales.” The bill never made it past a procedural vote, so the majority of these sales are legal.
The problem with the internet system with respect to firearms sales is that it makes it very easy for felons, barred from owning firearms in many states, to get their hands on weapons. The policy of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives or ATF is to merely “encourage” private sellers to finalize their sales through a licensed firearms dealer who can run the requisite background checks. It does prevent the purchase of a firearm by one party for another party unless it is “a bona fide gift.”
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Some states have closed the loophole for private sales, but online marketplaces like Armslist or selling them on Instagram, provide ways in which to circumvent the law. A study conducted by New York City into online gun sales found that 62 percent of guns sold online went to a buyer that could not pass a traditional background check.