Media reports that in 2014, Micah Johnson, the perpetrator of the police shootings in Dallas, purchased an AK47 through Facebook


In 2013, lawmaker urged Instagram to enact commonsense protocols to prohibit the use of services to enable gun sales


Washington (July 13, 2016) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today queried Facebook and Instagram about addressing the sale of guns on their services. Earlier this year, both Facebook and Instagram announced that gun sales would be banned on the social media platforms but reports and reviews show users are still able to pursue unregulated gun sales. In November 2013, Senator Markey wrote to Instagram urging the popular photo and video sharing online service to prohibit the use of its service to enable sales of firearms, consistent with policies adopted by other popular online marketplace entities. The New York Daily News is reporting today that in 2014, Micah Johnson, the perpetrator of the police sniper attack in Dallas, Texas, purchased an AK47 through Facebook.


“I remain deeply concerned that gun sales on Facebook and Instagram — or sales posted online but negotiated and concluded offline — may circumvent or violate state and federal laws, resulting in numerous unlawful sales of handguns, assault weapons, and other firearms,” writes Senator Markey, a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “We want all communities, whether online or offline, to be safe for their members. I continue to urge Facebook and Instagram to adopt safe business practices and prohibit postings for firearms sales.”


Senator Markey’s letter can be found HERE.


In the letter to the social media companies, Senator Markey asks questions that include:

  • Are Facebook and Instagram users still able to post content (photos, messages in groups, status updates on personal pages, etc.) in furtherance of gun sales? 
  • What steps did Facebook and Instagram take to implement Facebook’s 2014 announced policy change intended to address gun sales? 
  • Between 2014, when Facebook announced policy changes intended to address gun sales on Facebook and Instagram, and early 2016 when Facebook announced it would ban gun sales on its platform and on Instagram, how many Facebook and Instagram users attempted to post content in furtherance of a gun sale?
  • Since the beginning of 2016, has Facebook shut down any “groups” or accounts promoting or facilitating gun sales?
  • From 2014 through the present, how many requests have Facebook and Instagram received from law enforcement for assistance investigating gun sales, including requests for records?