03/05/16The Facebook Airsoft Sales Ban of 2016
While it’s always had an unparalleled ability to provide us with a mesmerising, bewildering parade of selfies, memes and touched-up photos of acquaintances’ breakfasts, in recent times, Facebook has become ever more of a marketplace for second-hand goods of all descriptions.
In fact, spotting a very credible opportunity, this Social Media colossus has been moving the platform towards allowing for the transfer of funds between users, with Messenger conversations (in the US initially) slated to be the first component of their system to have this feature. It’s a hugely shrewd move in some ways, and one that potentially draws users ever closer into the fold for very much more than the original premise of keeping in touch with friends and family.
Naturally, airsofters quickly realised that through the likes of Group pages, here was a very convenient outlet for them to sell on or swap unwanted items of kit. For some time, the numbers of RIFs, assault vests and uniforms changing hands in this manner burgeoned at a rate of knots and most users seemed pretty happy with the status quo.
All things must change
However, as the redoubtable British former Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once said, “change is inevitable”, and at the end of February 2016, Facebook initiated a blanket ban on the private sales of firearms via its service.
For our community, the key thing to point out at this juncture is that this wasn’t just limited to real steel pieces, or other “destructive devices” alone; airsoft guns were also very much in their sights (I’m sure there might be a pun in there somewhere), and the full list of items – taken from the Facebook Help Center – can be seen below. Do be sure to give particular note to the words in bold type:
- Machine guns
- Firearm receivers
- Antique guns
- Black powder firearms
- Muzzle-loading firearms
- BB guns
- Airsoft guns
- Air guns
- Air rifles
- Paintball markers
- Firearm replicas
- Non-functioning firearms
- Curios and relics
- Destructive devices such as bombs, grenades, rockets, missiles or mines
In truth, there’s been something of a Disraeli-esque inevitability to all this brewing for a while now. Given the exponential growth in items of all kinds being listed for sale on the social network’s pages, Facebook were always going to have to impose regulations of some kind to ensure that potentially harmful products didn’t find their way onto the system, be they pharmaceutical or psychoactive in nature, or capable of expelling projectiles at speed.
In the case of anything firearms-related, in some ways, the total ban made some sense as they wouldn’t then be subject to the administrative burden of having to constantly determine what was a legitimate sale or not. The following quote, also taken from the page linked to above, neatly summarises their thinking:
In order to enforce our policies as fairly and consistently as possible, we use one broad set of standards for the entire Facebook community.
The other major factor has been increased pressure from a number of sources over the years, many of those in the United States, including the White House itself, and in response to the spiralling numbers of shooting-based tragedies on the other side of The Pond. In many ways, the writing really has been on the wall for quite some time.
Where do we go from here?
In the wake of the ban, the time-honoured method of posting up pre-loved airsoft guns for sale on Group pages here and there is no longer a viable option, and any Groups featuring such material are in serious danger of being rapidly shut down if any transgression of the new rules is reported or discovered.
Still, airsofters are a resilient bunch, and quite resourceful with it, and so, our prediction would be that the number of classifieds sites (like this one!) will grow over the coming months as we get used to this new normal. The situation very definitely demands inventive solutions to be found, but is it the end of the world as we know it? Absolutely not. The show, as they say, must go on.
As always, if you’ve got any thoughts on this you’d like to share, do hit up the big comments box below!