10/28/2013 04:46 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Social Media Networks As a Marketplace for Gun Sales

Social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are supposed to be online forums meant to build communities, bridge distances, and connect friends and family. What started as an enterprise to connect students of college campuses, quickly flourished into a revolutionary new form of communication not just for individuals, but for global corporations, local and world leaders, and subsequently anything and anyone with access to the internet. The freedom of these networks are now the facilitators of the sale of firearms without background checks.

"Insta-gun," as one Daily News article called it, describes an increasingly popular phenomenon in which social media is being used as a marketplace for prospective gun vendors. Gun owners post a picture of their firearm, add a caption with a description of the gun, set a price, and wait to be inundated with bids on their product. Unlike eBay, which has policies restricting the posting of firearms on their website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have no such user policy. Users of these websites are perfectly free to participate in gun transactions. What's is most troubling are these transactions occur without any background check of the prospective buyer of a gun. Virtually anyone, regardless if he or she has a criminal record or a history of violence, can log on to Facebook and purchase the firearm of their choice.'

Background checks for gun purchasers are absolutely necessary to prevent guns from ending up in the wrong hands. We have seen all too many times deadly firearms in the hands of criminals and individuals with a history of mental instability. The recent shooting in at a naval base in our nation's Capital is a stark reminder. It is all too easy for a single violent impulse to turn into a national tragedy.

Unfortunately, Congress refuses to pass a federal law mandating universal background checks, despite the fact that the majority of Americans would support such a measure. The market for unregulated, background-check-free guns is growing rapidly. The convenience offered by social media only bolsters this trend. Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh and I have created an online petition, imploring Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to change their user policies to prevent the sale of firearms without background checks. Their policies require users to comply with federal and local laws, but the overarching problem: most states do not have any laws restricting online gun sales without background checks. Websites must stop enabling the sale of guns without background checks. Doing so, they can and will save countless lives and prevent more tragedies from happening.

We are calling on everyone who cares about saving lives and getting guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals, to sign this petition. The more people that sign, the more likely Social Media will listen.

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