Democrats in the Senate are looking to make changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act but the changes they are looking to make have nothing to do with big tech and everything to do with guns.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act affects how tech platforms are used and what is allowed on social media. This piece of legislation has been routinely targeted by Republicans in recent years and the reason they aimed to change it was to open up social media by threatening to remove certain protections they were granted through the legislation. Now Democrats are targeting it for change as a means of stopping gun sales.
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has been joined by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) in pushing the Accountability for Online Firearms Marketplace Act.
From the Feinstein’s Office:
“It’s time to start holding accountable those who turn a blind eye to illegal gun sales on their platforms,” Feinstein said. “The only way to reduce the scourge of gun violence plaguing our communities is to close loopholes that allow prohibited people to obtain guns.”
“Bestowing blanket immunity on websites for illegal gun sales mocks common sense and public safety. A website that enables such deadly arms transfers should not enjoy a shield from all accountability simply because they’re online. Section 230 was never intended to provide a sweeping free pass to such illicit lethal gun trafficking,” Blumenthal said. “This bill will reverse the disastrous holding in Daniel v. Armslist and ensure that online firearms marketplaces are held accountable for the gun deaths they bear responsibility for.”
“Online gun marketplaces fail to take common-sense safety measures to prevent illegal gun sales on their platforms,” said Whitehouse. “There is no reason why a retailer should be allowed to evade responsibility simply because they operate online. It’s time to close this cyber loophole and protect against more unnecessary suffering.”
This legislation aims to stop the “illegal” sale of firearms online by going after sites that facilitate these deals. One site that keeps coming up is Armslist.
Armslist operates the same way Craigslist does, the site has several listings for guns and you can contact the individual who made the listing to inquire further about buying one of their firearms. Armslist itself does not sell firearms. If you buy a gun using the site it is not Armslist who is selling you the gun, it is whoever made the listing.
It is because Armslist only facilitates the deal, it does not sell the guns, that it falls under Section 230’s protections. This is why Senate Democrats are now targeting these protections, they are trying to shut down sites like Armslist and control the flow of firearms.