Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and the topic of gun control have become part of the same conversation in a bill introduced by Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
Section 230 states that: “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” In simpler terms, it protects online platforms from liability for the content posted by users.
Senator Blumenthal has been a staunch defender of Section 230 in the past.
However, the proposed bill seeks to repeal Section 230’s protections from online firearm marketplaces.
The sponsors of the new bill titled the “Accountability for Online Firearms Marketplaces Act of 2021,” argue that it will prevent those legally barred from buying firearms from getting them online.
We obtained a copy of the bill for you here.
“It’s time to start holding accountable those who turn a blind eye to illegal gun sales on their platforms,” Senator Dianne Feinstein a co-sponsor of the bill, said in a press release. “The only way to reduce the scourge of gun violence plaguing our communities is to close loopholes that allow prohibited people to obtain guns.”
The bill states: “Every year, unlicensed sellers post more than 1,000,000 advertisements on online firearms marketplaces in States that do not legally require a background check. Individuals with criminal histories and other prohibited purchasers rely on these postings to evade basic background check laws and procure firearms. One study found that nearly 1 in 9 prospective gun buyers who respond to advertisements from unlicensed sellers on a major online firearms marketplace would not pass a background check, which is a rate that is 7 times higher than the denial rate in contexts where background checks are required.”
The repeal of Section 230 for online firearms marketplaces might not have a significant impact on gun-related crimes as criminals tend to shun purchasing guns online.
Instead, according to The Reload, the proposed law “is likely to have a chilling effect on internet speech and lawful online commerce in firearms and accessories.”
If the bill passed, online firearms marketplaces could be forced to shut down permanently, as no business owner wants to risk a costly lawsuit if one of their listed products winds up on a crime scene.