A handful of Senate Democrats sent letters to Amazon, Google, and eBay Friday urging the companies to better enforce their gun sale policies.
The letter follows shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas over the weekend. “America is in the throes of a gun violence epidemic and it is incumbent upon corporate America to do its part to help end the carnage,” the letters say.
The Senators, led by Bob Menendez of New Jersey, were prompted by reporting from The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and others that found ammunition and other gun accessories for sale on the companies’ websites in violation of their gun policies.
Weapons, guns, and some firearm accessories are forbidden on Google Shopping but reporters were able to find loopholes using certain searches.
“Our hearts go out to the victims of gun violence,” a Google spokesperson said. “The sale of weapons, guns, and certain gun parts is strictly prohibited on Google Shopping. As soon as we found policy-violating results, we removed them and are working to prevent these instances from reoccurring.”
Amazon also prohibits a range of products related to guns in its marketplace but allows certain types of accessories to be sold.
Update: An Amazon spokesperson provided this statement on the letter:
Amazon has never allowed guns or ammunition in our store. We require all sellers to follow our selling guidelines and we work hard to keep prohibited products out of our store. In this case, one product was evasively listed and we removed it immediately and took action on the seller. We look forward to sharing our efforts in this area with Senator Menendez.
eBay does not allow the sale of firearms or ammunition but does permit certain gun accessory sales.
“eBay is committed to maintaining a safe and trusted marketplace,” a spokesperson for the company said. “We take this commitment very seriously and have instituted strict policies and significant resources to prevent illegal firearm parts from being listed on our marketplace. We look forward to providing further context to Senator Menendez about the substantial measures we take to enforce our firearms policy.”
The letters ask the three companies to report how often they take down listings for firearms and gun accessories each month. The Senators also want to know what policies and technologies are in place to prevent unauthorized sales of firearm products.
The recent shootings have renewed interest in the role technology plays in extremist violence. The suspected El Paso shooter posted a racist manifesto to 8chan before opening fire in a crowded Walmart, prompting a number of technology companies to cut ties with the forum.
The violence also caused President Donald Trump to host representatives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter Friday to discuss extremism in online communities.