UPS issues new rules for shipping firearm parts – serial numbers now required

by Lee Williams

United Parcel Service has issued new rules for shipping firearms and firearm parts, but the announcement comes a week after UPS cancelled the accounts of gun retailers who may have violated the rules that weren’t yet made public or even in effect.  

In a story published July 1, we revealed that UPS was terminating the accounts of gun dealers, and that any packages currently in the UPS system could be “seized and destroyed.”

In a letter sent to one Florida gun dealer, Ghost Firearms, UPS said they were terminating the account because they “may be violating” laws concerning homemade firearm parts.

“We write to inform you that UPS has learned that your company may be violating applicable laws concerning the shipment of “ghost guns” to unauthorized locations,” the letter states. “In light of our concern, UPS has determined that it will cancel your account, effective immediately.

In a follow-up story published July 5, we revealed that five Democratic Senators recently sent ominous letters to UPS and 27 other carriers, blaming them for escalating violent crime rates.

“We are concerned that lax shipping security measures are contributing to the epidemic of gun violence in this country by allowing criminals to use stolen firearms to commit crimes,” the letters each state.

They were signed by Senators Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory A. Booker (D-N.J.), Christopher S. Murphy (D-Conn.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

In their letters, the Senators peppered the shippers with 20 questions and document requests. They were sent May 19 to UPS, FedEx, the U.S. Postal Service and trucking and rail carriers located in the United States and Canada.

UPS media relations personnel did not respond to calls or emails seeking comment for either story.

Now, UPS has quietly updated their rules for shipping firearms on their website.

Now, they require a serial number on any frame or receiver, as required by a federal rule that hasn’t yet taken effect.

Any item that meets the definition of a firearm (including firearm mufflers or silencers) or a “frame” or “receiver” under federal law (including any partially complete, disassembled, or nonfunctional frame or receiver as defined by 27 CFR § 478.12) must be identified and bear a serial number in satisfaction of the requirements for identifying such items under federal law, including 27 CFR § 478.92 and/or 27 CFR § 479.102, regardless of whether any such items are otherwise exempt from or not subject to identification requirements under applicable law.  This prohibition applies even before the effective date of 27 CFR § 478.12.

UPS’ previous rules contained no serial number requirements.

Takeaways

Over the past two weeks, UPS’ messaging has been a hot mess.

They threatened dealers’ livelihoods. They seized and destroyed property – all with no advance notice – and when they were caught and their actions became public, they failed to address their mistakes.

In other words, they punished gun dealers for violating secret UPS rules that weren’t even public – all because they got a scary letter from five anti-gun politicians. 

As a private business, UPS is free to enact whatever shipping rules they want, but we are free to choose a carrier that’s not so schizophrenic.


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