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People are using code words to sell firearms via Facebook

When selling something on Facebook marketplace or in a Facebook group; services, animals, and firearms are just a few of the prohibited items. But users have found a way around this when it comes to the sale of guns, using the code ‘hole punch’.
When selling something on Facebook marketplace or in a Facebook group; services, animals, and...
When selling something on Facebook marketplace or in a Facebook group; services, animals, and firearms are just a few of the prohibited items. But users have found a way around this when it comes to the sale of guns, using the code ‘hole punch’.(Miranda O'Bryan)
Published: Oct. 1, 2021 at 6:28 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Purchasing a firearm, it can be done in person or online but when using some social media sites like Facebook, the sale of a gun isn’t allowed.

So people are finding ways around this, using a code word.

When selling something on Facebook marketplace or in a Facebook group; services, animals, and firearms are just a few of the prohibited items.

But users have found a way around this when it comes to the sale of guns, using the code ‘hole punch’.

Although against Facebook guidelines, selling firearms online is legal.

“There’s an illegal avenue obviously that we would be very interested in but there’s also the avenue of, there are private sector sales online that can take place, which are legal,” said Jeff Reed, Assistant Special Agent Charge of the St. Paul Field Division for the ATF. “Now, many social media platforms are used for both. Both legal and illegal distribution of firearms.”

When selling online an FFL or Federal Firearms License is used to track the item, as well as ensure it’s being sold to someone who has passed a background check.

When the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives gets involved, illegal sales are happening.

“I can only speak anecdotally because as far as a legal sale of a firearm, we would not be involved,” said Reed. “Even if it’s a personal sale, which is totally legal, there are best practices in that. Even if you’re having an associate, the best practice would be to, even on a social media platform sale, would be to use a federal firearms license so that the background check and the tracing.”

But not everyone wants to do it that way.

“In the criminal element,” continued Reed. “When they utilize social media platforms are an attempt to avoid the use of the FFL because they know through the NICS system that they will be denied or that their scheme would be found out.”

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