Is Reddit Doubling As A Secret Weapons Bazaar?

Reddit is a lot of things to a lot of people: That’s really the entire point of the site. And one of those things might, according to some, be an unregulated guns marketplace.

Admittedly, the idea that Redditors, a vocal minority of which are libertarians, would use the site to trade or sell guns is less shocking than inevitable. But it’s a little surprising that it’s going on to the degree reported by Mother Jones:

Reddit CEO Yishan Wong did not respond to a request for comment. Taylor, the communications director, told Mother Jones: “Reddit neither condones nor does not condone the buying and selling of firearms through the site, as long as users are not using the site to violate applicable US laws.”

Reddit does not know, however, if the gun sales done through its site are done legally: The company does not track commercial transactions between its users, according to Taylor.

The actual extent is pretty limited, by Reddit standards: Roughly 159 transactions in the last six months or so, which is a fraction of the traffic the site sees from, say, one of its multiple game-swapping forums in a given week. Mother Jones notes that this figure probably doesn’t include private and in-state sales, but browsing the forum, that seems uncommon. Nor, for that matter, does it include putting the site’s logo on an AR-15 receiver, which they allowed to happen.

So we’re not talking about full Nicolas-Cage Lord Of War-style gun-running, here, but nonetheless, it does bring up a problem with Reddit’s hands-off culture. Redditors tend to insist that problems in the site are corrected by “the Reddit hive mind,” but the reality is, whenever the site’s had a problem, the fallback tends to be “It’s a user-generated problem, and we’ve got nothing to do with it.” That’s not really a great response in the first place, but in situations like this, it’s particularly disingenuous. Organizing a legal gun sale through the Internet is a reasonable exercise of a Constitutional right; using it to get around gun laws to sell your idiot cousin The Liquor Store Butcher a gun is something most people have an objection to for excellent reason.

Plugging your ears and saying “I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” really loudly is a great strategy until someone breaks the law. Sooner or later, Reddit’s going to have to yank its thumbs out of its ears, admit there is no hive mind, and make some choices.

via Mother Jones