Gun sales on social media sites concern law enforcement - WSMV Channel 4

Gun sales on social media sites concern law enforcement

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Social media sites have become a growing marketplace for people to buy and sell guns. Now there's a new concern about one site in particular: Instagram.

If you think Instagram exists solely for sharing photos and videos of pets, vacations and food, think again.

With just a few key strokes and the right hash tags, you can find guns for sale in pretty much any shape or size on the popular social media site.

It's big concern for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

"We really have no way of tracking that," said Jack Webb, ATF assistant special agent in charge.

Even on sites where gun sales aren't allowed, people find ways to get around the restrictions.

"They may put the word 'bang' or 'bang bang' or something in the title. And if you click there, it might be a way to elude the policy of that particular site," said Leroy Farris, with Nashville Armory.

Officials worry about firearms crossing state lines and getting into the wrong hands like criminals and children.

"Obviously, we don't want that. Nobody wants that," said Brentwood Capt. Alan Hardcastle.

Even if the seller is responsible and performs all of the required background checking, investigators say you can't ensure the next guy will.

"The person who purchased the firearm may turn around and sell it for a higher value to a person who is prohibited from possessing firearms," Webb said.

The ATF's cyber unit now has yet another place to search for criminals, which is no easy task since it is the World Wide Web and, technically, online sales are legal.

It's up to the site owners to decide if they're moral.

"It's up to whoever hosts the website. If they choose to let it be posted on their site, then there's not much that the police department can do about it," Hardcastle said.

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