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Firearms sales on Instagram

Written by Orchid


December 18, 2013


It was only a matter of time before firearms would make their way onto Instagram. Instagram originally started as people posting pictures of their favorite firearms turned into private owners and dealers offering the same for sale. Instagram is a social media application that is owned by Facebook, which averages 55 million photos posted per day. It is mostly used as an application on a Smartphone for sharing pictures with family and friends, but more than a few users have been using the photo-sharing app to buy and sell firearms. As it is not an E-commerce site, Instagram has no stated policy that we could find banning firearm sales, let alone pictures of firearms. Sellers list pictures with hash tags of “guns for sale” and when searched, the results come back like classified ads on Craigslist or Armslist. It is interesting to note that most of the sales that came back in initial searches were actual FFLs posting inventory.  Sometimes an actual picture of a firearm being sold instead of a stock picture from a manufacturer can be a powerful sales tool from a dealer’s perspective. All dealers would be expected to comply with the laws they currently follow with regard to disposition of firearms in this new type of viral marketing. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) have expressed about cyber activity. ATF spokesman John Ham said: “Where ATF would become involved is if that gun is sold how that transaction takes place. It’s that very small percentage that’s out there that uses the Internet to hide behind.” Ham said the bureau has recently created a special branch to investigate illegal cyber guns sales. Senator Edward Markey (Massachusetts –D) was so outraged by the practice that he urged Instagram to prohibit marketing of firearms through the app in a formal letter to CEO Kevin Systrom. Orchid Advisors provides electronic newsletter (“Advisory and Alert”) and blogs for general informational purposes only. It should not be considered a formal or informal interpretation of law. It is not intended as professional counsel, should not be considered legal advice and should not be used as such.