Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Representatives Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.) and Pat Ryan (D-N.Y.) today introduced the Stopping the 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.
In the Senate, the bill is cosponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).
“The major tech companies have banned the sale of firearms on their sites but that hasn’t stopped dishonest individuals from selling guns online using deceptive methods,” said Senator Feinstein. “Our bill would make it illegal to circumvent a website’s terms of service to sell a gun online. This is a commonsense approach to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals who want to avoid a background check by secretly buying weapons online.”
“Gun sellers and their buyers continue to find new ways to circumvent tech companies’ efforts to end the illegal sales of firearms on their platforms, putting the lives of millions of Americans and their families at risk,” said Senator Menendez. “With this common-sense bill, gun sellers who illegally sell, distribute or move their weapons and jeopardize public safety will pay the price for their actions. Legislation like this is necessary to protect our communities from the illegal use of firearms and semiautomatic assault weapons.”
“Background checks work, and everyone who tries to buy a gun should have to pass one,” said Representative Scanlon. “It’s time to crack down on deceptive online sales practices that give dangerous people unchecked access to guns and make our communities less safe. I’m proud to lead this commonsense legislation that would make these misleading practices illegal – one solution of many that we know will reduce gun violence and save lives.”
“Misrepresentations that allow illegally trafficked guns into our schools and on our streets must end now,” said Representative Ryan. “I’m proud to join Congresswoman Scanlon in fighting to keep our children and communities safe and curbing the epidemic of gun violence.”
Some technology companies have banned the sale of firearms and ammunition on their platforms. However, sellers often will misrepresent guns as other items to circumvent such restrictions.
For instance, sellers on platforms like Facebook Marketplace will claim to be selling “stickers” alongside images of gun maker logos. Sellers will ask interested parties to send a private message where buyers learn the posting is actually for a gun sale and receive details and pricing.
Facebook reported in 2020 that it had removed 1.3 million posts related to firearms between April and June from its platforms.