Should Congress remove immunity protections for third-party firearms marketplaces?

Awaiting Vote
Bill Summary

The bill would remove current federal legal protections for third parties that host or provide a platform for firearm sales. More specifically, the bill would affect online platforms, like social media sites, that facilitate fire-arm-related purchases, advertise firearms, or provide instructions on how to make a firearm with a 3-D printer. Sponsors: Senator Richard Blumenthal (Democrat, Connecticut), Senator Dianne Feinstein (Democrat, California), and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (Democrat, Rhode Island) View full bill text ➔

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Opponents say

•   "In attempting to strip Section 230 coverage for online firearms marketplaces, this bill would remove current liability protections from those online markets simply because they operate in a digital space The obvious intention is to target companies who operate modern, virtual sites for the buying, selling, and trading of firearms, parts, and ammunition. With liability protections removed, these sites would be subject to aggressive “lawfare,” frivolous but expensive lawsuits, with the intention of driving them out of business. The intent of this bill is simply to restrict mediums in which the people can access modern markets to exercise their fundamental right to keep and bear arms.Source: Firearms Policy Coalition

•  "Online sales are not ‘unregulated’ but subject to the same federal laws that apply to any other commercial or private gun sales…To the contrary, the GAO results showed that sellers operating on readily-accessible websites understood the law about restricted firearm sales and scrupulously followed it.” Source: National Rifle Association Institute for Legal Action 


Proponents say

•   "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." Source: Senator Dianne Feinstein (Democrat, California)

•  "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. 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." Source: Senator Richard Blumenthal (Democrat, Connecticut)

"Online gun marketplaces fail to take common-sense safety measures to prevent illegal gun sales on their platforms. 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."

Source: Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (Democrat, Rhode Island)