He’s been called “a good guy working for us behind enemy lines,” “one of our allies,” “a man who gives us hope,” and, “the ultimate badass.”
His name is Chuck Rossi, and he’s a director of engineering at Facebook. He’s also one of the company’s most prominent gun enthusiasts, who, by his own account, has trained hundreds of fellow employees to shoot pistols. More recently, Rossi has taken on a new, unofficial, role: advocate for gun groups on Facebook.
For months, Rossi has harnessed his technical expertise and internal connections to help gun groups get reinstated after they were shut down for violating Facebook’s new ban on gun sales. This has put Rossi at the epicenter of a behind-the-scenes battle between gun enthusiasts and proponents of comprehensive background checks, who have been busy reporting to Facebook groups that appear to violate the company’s policy.
While Rossi’s stated purpose is to give the groups a chance to comply with the site’s rules and bring back those pages dedicated to conversations about guns rather than transactions, he has, perhaps unwittingly, undermined Facebook’s efforts to eliminate unregulated gun sales through the site. Some of the groups Rossi helped to reinstate have continued to be havens for gun sales. Many have taken the opportunity to move from “private,” which allows anyone to search for and request access to the page, to “secret,” an unlisted setting which makes it difficult for anyone not already a member to find the groups, let alone view the content in them.