What if a single moment could ruin your entire life?
That’s what happens to many gun owners when they post gun pictures to sites such as Reddit. It may seem fun at the time, and gun owners may feel confident their identity is protected behind an anonymous online handle.
However, posting pictures of your guns or even your concealed carry license can cause headaches you could never imagine. What kinds of headaches, though, and how can you avoid them? Keep reading to discover the answers!
Is It Legal To Post Gun Pictures On Reddit?
We are going to cover the topic of posting gun pictures to Reddit very extensively in this guide. First, though, we need to start with the big question: is it legal to post pictures of your gun or concealed carry to Reddit?
The short answer is “yes.” There is no state or federal law that keeps you from posting these pictures to Reddit. And as of this writing, there is nothing in the Reddit content policy that forbids you from doing so.
However, this is one of those cases where being able to do something doesn’t mean that you should do it. In fact, posting such pictures to Reddit or other forms of social media could threaten your privacy, your property, and even the lives of your family members.
Changing Community Guidelines
Earlier, we touched on the fact that, as of this writing, Reddit’s content policy does not keep you from posting pictures of guns. That’s the good news. So, what’s the bad news?
If you’ve been on Reddit for a while, you may have noticed that policies change over time. The fact that the content policy allows firearm pictures now doesn’t mean it still will in a year or two. If the policy were to change and you have already posted pictures of guns, then you could be in violation of this policy and not even know it until it’s too late.
To make things worse, Reddit tends to be very reactive to negative media attention. Previously, the site has hosted subreddits devoted to creepy activities ranging from hating fat people to posting upskirt photos of women taken without their consent. Time and time again, Reddit only banned these subreddits once the subreddits started making the platform look bad.
Long story short? Any given day, we might only be one gun-hating news cycle away from Reddit changing its policies on posting gun pictures. It’s better to go ahead and not post than find yourself on the wrong side of a politically-based policy change.
The Reddit “Echo Chamber” Effect
For some, the better question would be why you’d want to post a firearm picture to Reddit in the first place. And the main reason you might be tempted is the same reason you never should: the Reddit “echo chamber” effect.
As you probably know, Reddit is split up into various subreddits. The spirit of these subreddits is that you can find a community of like-minded individuals on almost any topic under the sun.
Therefore, you may feel very comfortable discussing firearms and posting pictures of guns on places like r/guns or many other firearm-related subreddits. After all, you’re mostly among friends…right?
The answer is “yes and no.” While most of the people posting in a gun-related subreddit will have no problem with the pics you post, it’s important to realize that what you post in most subreddits is public. And there are countless anti-gun users and anti-gun subreddits out there.
These bad actors may see your pictures and try to make your life miserable online. And you may think that while that sounds annoying, at least it is contained online. But when users and even hackers with a grudge try to track down your personal info, it can make things much worse for you in real life as well.
Not So Anonymous
At this point, you may be thinking that posting gun pictures to Reddit can’t be that dangerous. After all, you likely have an anonymous internet handle, so it’s not like you’re posting on Facebook or Instagram. In that case, what’s so dangerous about posting these pics?
First of all, many who post these pictures don’t realize that the pictures contain more identifying information than they realize. This could include details like the serial number of the gun or a partial home address. And even photos of yourself at the firing range could potentially help someone narrow down where you live.
Collectively, gathering this information together is known as “datamining.” Most of the time, it is done by scary individuals with way too much time on their hands. But every year, they have access to more technological tools to make datamining easier than ever.
In short, every gun picture you post may be giving an online stalker you don’t even know more info about you and your family.
Risk of Theft
It’s scary enough to think about how easily people on Reddit can piece together identifying information about your guns and about your life. But that brings us to a scary question: what are they going to do about it?
One of the more basic things you should worry about is, of course, theft. When you’re posting gun pictures to Reddit, it’s usually to show off the cool new thing you just got. Once someone has enough identifying info about you, they can potentially come to your house in the middle of the day and steal your guns (or, almost as bad, steal your ammo).
It’s bad enough to have your firearm stolen from you. But the real nightmare scenario here is that the thief may go on to use your gun to commit other crimes. If you have not yet reported your gun as stolen by that point, then you may find yourself a suspect in any crimes the burglar ends up committing.
You might think someone magically coming to your home when you aren’t there is unlikely to happen. But remember, datamining can also reveal important information like your daily routine. If someone knows that you work 9:00 am to 5:00 pm every day, there is nothing to keep them from simply coming to your home at 2:00 pm and taking whatever they want.
Ultimately, it’s far safer to avoid the risk and avoid posting pictures of your guns to Reddit in the first place.
Law Enforcement and Other Privacy Concerns
Historically, gun owners have had a tense relationship with the police. On one hand, most gun owners see themselves as simply law-abiding citizens who want to be able to defend themselves. On the other hand, police are trained to see someone with a gun as a potential threat to their community.
And when it comes to the police, Reddit is once again a mixed bag when it comes to your privacy. According to Reddit’s Guidelines For Law Enforcement, the platform preserves your privacy in a number of different ways. Compared to something as intrusive as Facebook, your privacy is relatively safe on Reddit.
But as we have already indicated, it is possible for data miners to gather identifying information about you based on what you post. And if one guy sitting at a computer can gather that much information about you, just imagine what law enforcement can do with all of its extensive resources.
It is possible that law enforcement could identify you based on your posts and monitor your activity, and this might be enough to give them probable cause to search your home and potentially confiscate your firearms.
And while Reddit does much to protect your privacy, their Guidelines For Law Enforcement spell out their willingness to disclose information about users so long as law enforcement obeys proper protocols.
The Specter of Mass Shootings
You may still be curious as to why law enforcement would consider you dangerous based on a picture or other post on Reddit. While there are many reasons for this, one of the biggest is the ongoing specter of mass shootings.
Mass shootings have become an unfortunate part of our lives. And whenever a shooting occurs, the public wants to know why law enforcement was unable to prevent this from happening. This is particularly true when there are posts on social media in which the shooter made threatening comments, acted erratically, and so on.
Both to save lives and preserve their reputation, the police are more proactive than ever when it comes to monitoring suspicious online activity. Remember, perception is everything: even though you might post pics of a new gun to show off, there is always a chance that law enforcement and many members of the general public see you as a shooter waiting to happen.
Lack of Context Online
Whether you’re concerned about the reactions of law enforcement or just the reactions of others, there is another big reason to not post gun pictures to Reddit. And here it is: because text communication doesn’t really convey tone, it’s easier for other people to assume the worst possible context.
For example, maybe you’re going through a rough divorce and venting about how you feel to like-minded people online. If your post includes a gun (even if you aren’t holding it or otherwise doing anything threatening), that post might be construed as a threat against your soon-to-be ex-spouse. This could put you in a bad position for the divorce proceedings, especially when it comes to getting custody of children.
Similarly, your posts may be taken in the worst possible light by law enforcement. In one infamous case, New York City police arrested a teenager for “threatening” police officers on Facebook. The “threat” in question was simply putting an emoji of a gun next to an emoji of a police officer.
Facebook and Reddit are certainly very different platforms, but the touchiness of law enforcement is universal. And if you can get arrested for simply posting an emoji of a gun, you can only imagine the potential trouble you could get into for posting the real thing!
What To Do (And Not Do) If You Post Gun Pictures To Reddit
Now, you know why posting gun pictures to Reddit is a bad idea. But if you absolutely insist on posting pictures, there are a few things you should and should not do.
First off, make sure to never use your real name or identifiable handles online. Keep in mind that while it’s rare for someone to use their actual name as a Reddit handle, many users accidentally give away identifying info.
For example, many people have a username with their birth year in it. That seems innocuous enough, but it provides online stalkers with one more bit of info about who you really are. The same goes for online handles that have details like the city you are in or even what some of your other hobbies are.
As an additional privacy measure, try to use a unique handle on Reddit. If you’re using the same handle there that you are using in other places, then someone could spend just a few minutes googling that name and gathering quite a bit of info about you.
Our other bit of advice if you post gun pictures to Reddit or anywhere else is this: try to avoid getting political. One reason for this is that it’s very easy for law-abiding gun owners to get caught up in all of the anti-gun hysteria online. But if you end up making angry posts combined with identifying info, then the police may see this as you making threats against someone else.
Ultimately, there is nothing wrong with treating your guns and gun ownership as a private matter. And to keep yourself and your family safe, the less you post, the better!
Protect Yourself Today
Avoiding posting gun pictures online helps you stay safe while using Reddit. But if you want to stay safe in the real world, what you really need is a concealed carry permit.
Fortunately, we make it easy for you to complete the concealed carry course in a close, convenient location. If you’re ready to protect yourself and your family, come get certified today!