AR-15 Giveaway Shut Down on Facebook After Online Criticism of Weapons Sales

Monday, 22 Apr 2013 08:20 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Erik Lowry's Facebook page for his firearms store Pittsburgh Tactical Firearm was shut down by the social media network on Thursday after information appeared there on the giveaway of an AR-15 semi-automatic weapon. So Lowry started a second Facebook page promoting his gun businesses only to have it shut down as well.

Facebook didn't respond to media inquiries about the removal of Lowry's page and several others with similar firearms promotions, but it may have been triggered by an online article by vocativ.com that singled out Facebook pages that offer contests in which firearms and guns parts are given away, according to the Blaze.

"Now that the U.S. Senate has voted against enacting any new federal gun control measures, Americans are as free as ever to purchase firearms with limited background checks," wrote Vocativ. "They’re also able to score free firearms from an unexpected source: Facebook."

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Facebook, which appears to have been unaware of the contests until the Vocativ article, has deemed such free giveaways as ads, which made the offer a violation of the social network’s terms.

"Our Ad Guidelines prohibit promotion of the sale of weapons and the Ad Guidelines apply to Pages with commercial content on them," a company spokesman said in a written statement to Vocativ. "Ads may not promote the sale or use of weapons, ammunition, or explosives."

The spokesman said the company would review the posts adding, "Most of these should be removed per our terms."

Lowry was apparently unaware of the shutdown until he received emails and voicemails from fans asking why his page was taken down. Prior to the shutdown, Pittsburgh Tactical Firearm's Facebook page had more than 27,000 followers, said Lowry, and was used to update customers on store and stock information and Second Amendment news.

Lowry said he sent more than 100 messages to Facebook asking for an explanation and reportedly received no response as of yet.

"I still don't know what's going on," Lowry told the Blaze . "The lack of communication is so, incredibly frustrating."

Lowry said if he had been made aware that he was in violation of Facebook's terms he would have made whatever changes necessary to ensure he was in compliance.

"I am very adamant about following rules. I'm not the type of person who will stick it to the man," Lowry said. "[It] at least should have been a courtesy for someone to contact us and say 'this is why we did it.'

Lowry added that as for the contests themselves, they were not being conducted through his Facebook page, where they were only being announced, but rather through his website.

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Lowry claimed to have lost between $500 to $1,000 in sales per day. He also noted that he had spent about $10,000 in formal advertising through Facebook before the incident.

On Monday, Lowry said he will be contacting the NRA for legal advice, adding "This kind of censorship is unconstitutional."

Related stories:

Gun Maker Claims Bank of America Froze Account Over Online Firearm Sales

Actor Bruce Willis Opposes Obama's Gun-Control Proposal


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