That phrase has been around a long time. I’ve seen it on billboards, in tv ads, in magazines, on the radio, and in pubic announcements heard on public transit, in airports, and on Amtrak. I saw it on the front of a man’s tee shirt last summer. But what happens when you do say something?
I put it to the test when I saw an account on Instagram selling weapons, ammunition, and magazines. Some of the magazines were the extended type that exceeds the capacity that is legally allowed in some places. The account’s dashboard boasts of quick shipment and assures discretion. I clicked the three dots on the profile to report the account to Instagram, choosing ‘Sale of Illegal or Regulated Goods’ as the reason. I selected Firearms from the listed items. Other regulated goods in the list include Fake health documents; Drugs; and Endangered animals. I reported that account and felt good about what I had done.
I sometimes wonder if many people take the time to report things. I’ve read that when people witness an accident, it’s a high percentage who don’t call 911. One of the many reasons why some people don’t report things is because they presumed someone else had already done it. Others don’t call because of their fear of law enforcement. Another reason is they don’t think the report will be taken seriously. That happened with a survivor of the serial killer Ted Bundy. A young woman in Florida, Kathy Kleiner Rubin, was fortunate enough to escape Bundy’s attack at her Florida State University sorority house. When she reported what happened, one of the officers was initially skeptical of her story; but he eventually was convinced she was authentic. Imagine how that must further destroy a victim if law enforcement doesn’t believe the report.
Anyhow, back to the story at hand. A few days after I reported that Instagram account, I received a reply, which read like an automated reply. To paraphrase, it basically said they receive a large volume of reports and that they don’t have enough personnel to review each one. So, that account I reported won’t be reviewed and won’t be taken down. The message also said the number of reports received about an account won’t impact their ability to review accounts. It went on to tell me how I can block the account so I won’t see it if I choose to do so.
This raises a question for me: if someone who isn’t legally allowed to purchase or own a weapon buys one via this shady process on Instagram, is there any legal liability on the part of Instagram? Of course, there is. After all, Instagram knew about it, or should have known about it had it reviewed the account. It made me feel as if it’s a waste of my time and energy to make a report.
Fast forward a few weeks, I happened upon an ATF website for reporting illegal actions involving firearms, explosives, violent crime, or arson. Selling firearms on Instagram is exactly the perfect thing to report via this site. I never knew about this reporting vehicle. They don’t do a good job of advertising it. They should take a lesson from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, a.k.a. IC3, for reporting victimization of internet-based crimes. I see that advertised multiple times per week online and offline. ATF needs to do better at advertising its site. Nonetheless, I found ATFs site and made my report, providing details about that account.
Did I do enough? Should I have done more? Is there something else I need to do? I don’t think I should be expected to do anything else. I suspect I did more than many people would have done. I’ll watch and wait to see if any action is taken. Who knows? Maybe it’s a bait account managed by the ATF or other federal, state or local law enforcement agency seeking to catch criminals. Regardless, I did my part, so I can sleep at night. Life goes on.