Scanlon Introduces Bill to Crack Down on Fraudulent Online Gun Sales

Photo Taken Pre-COVID

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-5) introduced the Stop Online Fraudulent Sales of Firearms Act, a bill to prevent gun sellers from circumventing technology companies’ terms of service by making it illegal to fraudulently sell firearms and ammunition online.

“We hear time and time again from big tech companies that they are cracking down on illegal, online gun sales, yet this problem persists, and has extended far beyond traditional websites and is now present on social media platforms,” said Congresswoman Scanlon. “This bill would make it illegal for gun sellers to circumvent websites’ terms of service and continue the underground proliferation of firearms. It’s part of a larger effort that needs to be taken to stop the plague of gun violence in our communities.”

Some technology companies have banned selling firearms and ammunition on their platforms. However, sellers use tactics like misrepresenting guns as other items to circumvent those restrictions.

For instance, sellers will advertise on platforms like Facebook’s Marketplace, claiming to sell stickers alongside images of gun makers’ logos. Sellers typically ask an interested party to send a private message where buyers then learn the posting was actually for a gun sale and receive details and pricing.

In August 2020, Facebook reported it had removed 1.3 million pieces of content related to firearms between April and June 2020 from its platforms.

The Stop Online Fraudulent Sales of Firearms Act has received support from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and Everytown for Gun Safety.

“Internet marketplaces like Facebook are the virtual dark alley where unscrupulous gun sellers go to meet dangerous individuals who are trying to get their hands on a firearm,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Stopping these illegal sales would save lives, and we applaud Congresswoman Scanlon for introducing this legislation in the House to do exactly that.”

“Overwhelming majorities of Americans support policies that ensure that individuals who should not possess firearms are not able to purchase them, including online,” said Kris Brown, president of Brady. “Brady is grateful to Congresswoman Scanlon for addressing a dangerous practice of falsely advertising firearm sales online. Such sales are designed to circumvent the regulations that help keep our families and communities safe. This is a common-sense fix to a growing problem that applies the spirit of our nation’s existing gun safety laws to novel, 21st century issues.”

Last month, this bill was also introduced in the Senate by Senators Diane Feinstein and Bob Menendez.

Bill text can be found here: https://scanlon.house.gov/UploadedFiles/Stopping_the_Fraudulent_Sales_of_Firearms_Act.pdf

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Mary Gay Scanlon currently serves a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Pennsylvania’s 5th Congressional District.

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