The Dallas Shooter Shopped For A Gun On Facebook

Report: Micah Johnson bought an AK-47 through social media in 2014

Micah Xavier Johnson. — Micah X. Johnson via Facebook via REUTERS
Jul 13, 2016 at 10:18 AM ET

Micah Johnson, who killed five police officers in downtown Dallas last week, bought an AK-47 over Facebook in 2014, says the man who sold him the weapon.

Johnson purchased the semi-automatic weapon for $600 from Colton Crews, who gave his account of the transaction to the New York Daily News. Crews said he desperately hopes his gun wasn’t used in last Thursday’s shooting.

For now, it appears that it wasn’t: Quoting unnamed sources, NBC News reported that Johnson used two pistols and a Saiga AK-74 in the Dallas attack—both different weapons than the one Crews sold him.

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But the incident serves as yet another example of how easy it can be for a dangerous person to obtain a deadly weapon, particularly in a state like Texas that doesn’t require background checks for private gun sales. That said, Johnson had no criminal record or known psychiatric issues, so would have passed a background check anyway.

Crews told the Daily News he thought Johnson was “on the up and up” and “just a normal guy.” He now says he’s no longer interested in guns, and backed out of a deal last weekend to buy one, saying he “feel[s] partially responsible” for what happened in Dallas.

The transaction between Johnson and Crews took place about 19 months ago, the Daily News reported. That was well before Facebook banned gun and ammunition sales on the platform—a rule that is easily and constantly being broken despite some Facebook users’ best attempts to report such sales. Mike Monteiro recently wrote on BoingBoing that he and the “small army” he helped organize on Twitter have reported gun ads to Facebook, getting about 3,000 of them removed (but reporting, he estimates, about five times that many). His posts showing the ads he was trying to get removed then got him temporarily banned from Facebook for “violating community standards.” He says he has never received additional information as to what he did to violate Facebook’s rules, and is currently serving a month-long ban.

While gun sales are technically prohibited on Facebook, contests giving them away are not, as long as they follow Facebook’s general contest rules.

“We prohibit people from using Facebook to offer and coordinate private sales of firearms,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “Any content that violates this policy will be removed as soon as we become aware of it—whether it is in groups, on profiles, or on pages.”

This story has been updated to add comment from Facebook.