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Montana AG Leads Inquiry Into Possible FedEx and UPS Gun Registry

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, joined by 17 other state Attorneys General, has expressed his concern over new firearms shipping policies implemented by FedEx and UPS. If you haven’t heard, the two shipping companies have changed their terms of service relating to gun manufacturers and retailers. Knudsen says that several Montana FFLs have reached out to his office out of concern that those new terms could be used to create a backdoor firearms registry.

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen
Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen wants answers from FedEx and UPS. (krtv.com)

Remarkably Similar Terms of Service

FedEx and UPS now require FFL holders to create three separate shipping accounts: one for firearms, one for firearm parts, and one for all other firearm-related products. Dealers are not allowed to mix shipments. That means FedEx and UPS know when a gun a shipped, and to whom. It can also reveal who might be building or accessorizing a firearm.

Both companies also require FFLs to keep documentation regarding those shipments and turn them over upon request. So, not only will the shippers know who is getting a firearm or firearm-related product, but they can also get detailed invoices regarding those purchases. Put the two together and voila! There’s your gun registry, dating back to when the policy took effect.

That’s Not Even the Worst Part…

The FedEx terms of service, mirrored closely by UPS, allow the company to “comply with…requests from applicable law enforcement or other governmental authorities, even if such requests are “inconsistent or contrary to any applicable law, rule, regulation, or order.” In other words, FedEx and UPS will share that information even if it’s not expressly legal to do so. All the ATF, FBI, DEA, DHS, or three-letter agency of your choice has to do is ask. No warrant required. Does anyone else think that’s a bad thing?

FedEx truck
Is FedEx conspiring with the feds to create a backdoor firearms registry? (news.yahoo.com)

AG Knudsen notes that this policy provides these agencies with a way around federal law, which currently prohibits a federal firearms registry. But if the feds aren’t compiling the data themselves and only getting it from shipping companies, it probably doesn’t break the law. Anyone think they will do just that? I do.

We already know that ATF has an illegal registry since they installed a searchable database for the FFL files they keep on hand. They have a record of every FFL transaction going back 20 years or so. Before the search capability, those records didn’t amount to much because there were so many. Not anymore. Now, thanks to FedEx and UPS, they can add to it without even going to the FFLs.

Knudsen also notes that he has received reports that the new terms of service include a gag clause. The companies reportedly told FFLs that the agreement is “confidential and shall be held in strict confidence by both parties and may not be disclosed unless required by law.” Of course, that contradicts the earlier statement that government agencies can access the information whenever they want, even if not required by law. So, which is it? It probably means that the companies don’t want the FFLs saying anything, but if the feds come calling, well, all bets are off.

UPS truck

Hard Questions

Knudsen included a series of questions for the shippers and requested copies of the new terms of service to be reviewed by his office. The questions to FedEx are as follows. The same questions were sent to UPS:

  1. Did FedEx enact these policies with the goal of information sharing with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) or any other federal agency?
  2. Did FedEx enact these policies at the request of officials in ATF, a different federal agency, or on its own initiative?
  3. If FedEx implemented these policies at the request of a federal agency, please identify that agency, the officials who made that request, the nature of that communication, and any legal authorization cited by those officials.
  4. If FedEx changed its policies on its own initiative, please explain why it made those changes.
  5. Did FedEx communicate or coordinate with United Parcel Service (UPS) in making these changes?
  6. Did ATF or other federal agency employees help draft the updated shipping agreements?
  7. If your shipping agreement does contain a gag clause, please explain the purpose of that clause and whether you intended it to prevent an investigation into the legality of the agreement.

FedEx and UPS have 30 days from the November 29 letter to respond.

Attorney General signatures
17 other state attorneys general joined Montana AG Austin Knudsen’s inquiry.

Other Possible Influences

ATF and the other feds may or may not be behind all this. You might recall that back in August, five Democrat Senators wrote to 28 carriers, including FedEx and UPS, essentially accusing them of contributing to the “gun violence epidemic” because they ship perfectly legal firearms and accessories. The letter supposedly dealt with so-called “ghost guns,” but it asked many searching questions about shipping policies regarding firearms in general, as well as parts and accessories.

When I first saw this story, it seemed to me that these Senators’ implied threats could be behind it. It would not surprise me if that August letter had something to do with this. It will be interesting to see how they respond to AG Knudsen.

Attorney General signatures
Is your state attorney general on board?

This is a Bad Thing

This revelation seems particularly poignant given the recent information coming from Twitter regarding the FBI flagging speech they want suppressed. I won’t go into all that since this is a gun blog, but if you haven’t seen it, you should look it up.

We’ve known that federal agencies have been overstepping their bounds for a long time and this just seems a little too lax to be FedEx’s idea alone. Or UPS. Why put in the part about sharing the info, even if it contradicts legality, if you don’t plan to do it? Something stinks. Let’s hope AG Knudsen makes some headway. This looks illegal and should not be allowed to stand.

#Montana #Leads #Inquiry #FedEx #UPS #Gun #Registry

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