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People use ‘Facebook groups’ to buy, sell guns

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DENVER -- You've probably used Facebook to post a few photos or like someone's status, but what about buying a gun? There are entire Facebook groups set up so that people can sell and trade firearms, often without background checks.

Now a prominent gun control advocacy group is calling on Facebook to do something about it.

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America recently posted a video that looks and sounds similar to the 10th Anniversary Facebook videos that were popping up on countless timelines.

However, this video shows image after image of guns sales conducted on the social networking site, some boasting that background checks aren't required.

"It was shocking to me that this was going on," said Jennifer Hope, a spokesperson for the Colorado Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

Hope says her organization has sent petitions to Facebook calling on the site to ban gun sales and take down any pages that promote them.

"It's more difficult to get a Facebook account, more information is required, than is required to sell a gun on Facebook," Hope said.

In response to the petitions a spokesperson for Facebook pointed out that users aren't allowed to buy anything on the site, or promote weapons in advertising. However, that hasn't stopped entire groups from forming for exactly that purpose.

Members of the groups often avoid background checks because federal laws do not require background checks for gun sales between private citizens.

Colorado law does require background checks for any private transfer of firearms, but it's hard to police online.

"That black market already exists," said Edgar Antillon, a member of a Facebook group called Colorado Gun Trader.

The Colorado Gun Trader group is one of the largest firearms Facebook groups in the state. Its home page says, the "group exists for our members to legally buy, sell, trade, and auction firearms, firearms accessories, and other outdoor equipment."

Though it’s hard to know how many local sales have included background checks, Antillon said the group is private, meaning administrators add a level of safety.

"We know law abiding citizens when we see them," Antillon said. "Those bad apples we get to weed out and get rid of them."

"In Colorado we don't require a Facebook check, we require a background check," Hope said.

Regardless, Edgar argues that action by Facebook won't stop the activity online.

"It simply doesn't work. Bad people get around that stuff all the time," Antillon said.

Members of Moms Demand Action hope they can at least add another obstacle.

"When you can buy a gun online it just circumvents all of the work we've done here in Colorado," Hope said.


  • Chris Day

    As one of four admins for this group (Colorado Gun Trader), you can read our rules (posted below). We are merely a classifieds section. WE do not sell these guns. We don’t allow illegal firearms, magazines, etc to be sold on our group. We require that all members follow all firearms laws, both state and federal. Basically, we’re a bulletin board. Saying that banning a bulletin board will stop people posting babysitting ads and yard work, is delusional.

    CGT Rules:

    1) This is not a “Make an offer” site. A price/ trade value will be posted in every ad. Failure to do so will result in your ad being deleted.

    2) A location is required for all ads.

    3) Due to the new laws signed on 1 July, 2013, all firearms sales (C&R excluded) must be run through an FFL. While we can’t supervise every sale, it’s up to you to be responsible.

    4) Also due to the new law, full magazines capable accepting more than 15 rounds are prohibited to sell on Colorado Gun Trader. Parts kits are allowed, but please use your best judgment.

    5) No price bashing. If you don’t like the price, please keep the comments to yourself or send a RESPECTFUL PM to the seller. This includes bashing ads from Armslist or other gun related pages. Repeat offenders will be removed.

    6) Harassment will not be tolerated. Repeat offenders will be removed.

    7) Government equipment such as Kevlar plates, helmets, or Kevlar pads are not allowed to be sold. If you are buying plates from someone on CGT, the administrators will not be held responsible.

    8) This page is for the sale of sporting goods only. Firearms, reloading, ammunition, bows, and other hunting equipment is allowed. Ads not related to the aforementioned items will deleted.

    9) Do NOT POST SALE ITEMS ON BEHALF OF SOMEONE ELSE!!!! Only the owner/decision maker of items to be sold can list items on CGT. if you do not currently possess, or have positive control of the item, do NOT post for sale.
    None of this, “Let me check with so & so”, etc. If the poster of the ad does not fully understand the terms of sale, have the person who does understand them, post the item.

    Failure to abide by the rules stated above will result in a warning, and repeat offenses will result in removal.

    • Chris Day

      As for the ads posting “No BCG required” those are very old collectors guns, most not in firing condition, CO law does not require that they have a check performed.

  • buffsfan

    This article demonstrates a total lack of understanding of Colorado gun law, the effects of technology on commerce and it reveals the agenda of the writer and the newsroom.

    Line birdcages with this and not much more.

    • Chris Day

      How is it Illegal Chris Akarain? It’s advertising. It’s no different than buying a car from Facebook.
      Someone advertises a car, someone says I want it. They meet, exchange money, and go through the proper channels to insure/register it. Someone wants a gun on Facebook, they meet AT A LICENSED FEDERAL FIREARMS LICENSEE and do all the paperwork to do it.
      Think and RESEARCH what you’re saying before you ASSUME that people aren’t doing background checks. It’s our group REQUIREMENT. We’ve had people message our members asking them not to do a background check, our members let us know and they are banned IMMEDIATELY. Tell me how it’s illegal?

      I think that people assume that we are just mailing guns out to everyone. Guns can’t be sent person to person. They have to be sent THROUGH an FFL, and to get the gun FROM that FFL, the person picking it up HAS to do a background check. Explain to me how that’s illegal again?

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