What’s UPS Up To?

Jul 6, 2022

We’re still chasing comments from United Parcel Service (UPS), but it seems the new Congressional rules regarding firearms has wrapped UPS around the proverbial axel - at least when it comes to the already-tightly controlled business of shipping complete firearms and miscellaneous assorted parts.

Toss ghost guns into the equation and it’s for certain things are getting strange.

The Biden administration and Congress have tried to portray their latest bit of infringement on the Second Amendment as “common sense” legislation designed to protect the general population with a variety of “sensible” rules. Rules to protect the innocent and those who might be temporarily considered to be in control of less than their full faculties.

Sounds good, doesn’t it. So what’s the problem?

Sensible rules don’t always remain in their intended (sensible) state.

Often, as was noted by the United States Supreme Court in more than one opinion last session, Congress will frequently pass laws that are extremely vague when it comes to their intent and impact. And, as the justices further noted, not because they’re so busy about “the people’s business.” In fact, the opposite is true.

They’re intentionally vague so they can be adapted to produce a desired outcome later, or create a moving target to allow them to be somewhat more, shall we say, malleable than tightly written, well-defined legislation. Why? It makes it considerably more difficult to interpret what a law’s intended impact really is.

When it comes to loose law, what the law says isn’t necessarily what it’s intended to do. Rather than clarify, the purpose is to intentionally obfuscate.

Consider the new, rushed, and - extremely vague- definition of someone being in the firearms business in this latest legislation. The old regs weren’t perfect, but were clear when it came to differentiating between a person disposing of personal property or a for-profit business selling guns without the requisite Federal Firearms License (FFL). Selling firearms in a personal transaction was completely permissible- provided the purchaser wasn’t a “prohibited person.” Selling guns to someone disqualified from ownership is never note. is perfectly permissible.

By leaving gaping definitional vagaries, lawmakers have, in effect, provided either a legal conundrum or political cover for companies who provide services to legitimate businesses.

That’s a very long way of saying that UPS has notified some firearms-related customers their shipments will no longer be going via UPS. We heard whispers, followed by the usual social media screams of outrage, over the weekend. As we’ve watched, we also put out some feelers and direct inquiries to companies we’d read had been “cut off” by UPS.

The largest was Brownells. And when it comes to remote purchasing in the gun business they’re the textbook definition of “largest.” When I started getting outraged messages from people I knew -as opposed to crazy group texts being passed on like a communicable disease- I reached out to Brownells and UPS.

Here’s what I know to be fact to this point:

The relationship between Brownells and UPS is “under review.” What that means is simple: while you’re under one of those reviews, you’re not allowed to ship via UPS.

So the truth of the matter is that UPS is not servicing Brownells - at least until they “further understand our compliance procedures and adherence to the law.”

Having not spoken with any other companies, I won’t speculate on what’s happening -other than say I know UPS has suspended dealers that sold parts for “ghost guns”. As I was told by one senior gun company executive “that’s all we are aware of.”

And there’s nothing on UPS’ website to indicate otherwise. The regulations regarding shipping firearms, firearms parts and related materials are very specific -but say nothing about “ghost guns” or parts for them.

Is it a case of corporate attorneys being overly cautious or using the new law as “cover” for a case of virtue signaling? No idea…because we haven’t gotten anything from UPS regarding their actions or the implications.

When we do, as always, we’ll keep you posted.

— Jim Shepherd