Republicans warn FedEx, UPS against overregulating gun store owners

Reports that shipping companies may be working to create gun registries or to track firearms follow a similar plan from major credit card companies revealed earlier this year.

Published: December 21, 2022 5:22pm

Updated: December 22, 2022 9:30am

A group of Republicans have warned FedEx and UPS against imposing burdensome regulations on gun store owners that would allow the companies to track firearms sales.

Led by Montana Republican Attorney General Austin Knudsen, the group of 18 GOP AGs sent a letter to each company demanding they provide a copy of their updated terms of service and answer questions as to the intent behind their changes. Kentucky GOP Attorney General Daniel Cameron signed the letter to FedEx, but not the one addressed to UPS.

"According to these reports, FedEx now requires FFL [Federal Firearms License] holders to create three separate shipping accounts: one for firearms, one for firearm parts, and one for all other firearm-related products," the letter reads. "Under this three-tier system, gun sellers cannot mix and match shipments, which reveals to your company whether they are shipping a gun, gun part, or a gun-related item."

"In addition to creating three distinct shipping groups, FedEx now apparently demands that gun store owners retain documents about what specific items those shipments contain and make that information available to FedEx upon request," they went on, before asserting that "[t]hese demands, in tandem, allow FedEx to create a database of American gun purchasers and determine exactly what items they purchased."

"Perhaps most concerning, your policies allegedly allow FedEx to 'comply with... requests from applicable law enforcement or other governmental authorities' even when those requests are 'inconsistent or contrary to any applicable law, rule, regulation, or order,'" they continued. "In doing so you—perhaps inadvertently—give federal agencies a workaround to federal law, which has long prevented federal agencies from using gun sales to create gun registries."

The text of the letter to UPS was nearly identical, with the company names substituted. The letter to FedEx, however, addressed their terms of service's alleged inclusion of a "gag clause" preventing gun store owners from discussing the terms.

The Republicans demanded the companies provide copies of their terms of service and answer whether they coordinated with each other or the federal government in drafting them.

Reports that shipping companies may be working to create gun registries or to track firearms follow a similar plan from major credit card companies revealed earlier this year. That effort also resulted in a rebuke from a group of Republican attorneys general.

Appearing on the "Just the News, No Noise" television show on Wednesday, Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton, who signed both letters, asserted that the government was turning to private entities to enforce policies in an extra-constitutional manner.

"[I]t's a workaround to the Constitution," he said. "They're inconvenienced by the fact that they can't the federal government can't limit your first amendment or your Second Amendment or other other rights in the Constitution."

"So they're using corporations is sort of frontman or front office's to run their directives to do exactly what they would do in other countries like China or Venezuela or whatever country you want to name it doesn't have doesn't have a constitution to protect them," he continued. "We've already seen it with, with the Biden administration, using social media companies to limit what people can say about COVID, what they can say about the elections, what they can say about any controversial issue that they want to limit Americans from talking about, and the social media companies have clearly got along with it."

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