Handguns are the new machine guns (for shipping)

Handguns are the new machine guns (for shipping)

UPS just prohibited gun shipments by ordinary people. Now "nonlicensees" can only ship long guns through USPS, and can't ship handguns at all.

This change makes handgun shipping as heavily restricted as machine guns. And apparently this change happened because some Senators threatened UPS with a false legal opinion.

What changed with UPS?

Effective September 5, 2022, UPS no longer accepts handguns for shipment from ordinary people. You must possess a federal firearms license (FFL) to ship a handgun through UPS.

Here is the relevant quote from the new UPS policy:

UPS accepts packages containing firearms ... only from Shippers who are licensed importers, licensed manufacturers, licensed dealers, or licensed collectors ...

Previously ordinary people could ship handguns by following a few simple rules. They needed to package the gun appropriately, visit a UPS location, and declare the shipment contained a firearm. Now only FFLs are allowed to follow that process.

What does this change mean for me?

This change in UPS policy means different things for different people:

  • If you are an ordinary person without an FFL, you must visit a local FFL to ship a handgun for you. That means you will probably be asked to pay a modest transfer fee on top of the actual shipping cost.
  • If you possess a federal firearms license, you may see an increase in customers asking you to ship handguns for them.

Why did UPS change its policy?

UPS has not officially explained why it changed its policy. However, Ammoland claims "the new rules came in response to a letter sent by five anti-gun senators". That refers to the threatening letter sent in May by Democrat Senators Markey, Blumenthal, Booker, Feinstein, and Murphy. It seems likely that Ammoland is correct. That's more than slightly frustrating, because that letter was based on a false premise.

What did the Senators' letter say?

The Senators quickly stated their justification in their letter:

Under existing law, only licensed gun dealers and manufacturers — known as Federal Firearms Licenses (FFL) — can ship a firearm across state lines.

There is only one problem with that statement. It's completely wrong.

Were the Senators wrong?

The BATF has an easily discoverable webpage answering, "May a nonlicensee ship a firearm by common or contract carrier?" The answer is very simple:

A nonlicensee may ship a firearm by a common or contract carrier to a resident of his or her or her own state or to a licensee in any state.

So according to the federal government, these Senators are wildly incorrect. But that was obvious to anyone who is halfway informed. Thousands of "nonlicensee" Americans lawfully ship firearms across state lines every day, often related to online transactions. As long as you ship to a "licensee" – otherwise known as an FFL – you are perfectly within the boundaries of existing law. This is common knowledge to anyone with passing familiarity of the firearms industry.

Why were the Senators wrong?

Only two explanations seem plausible. Either these Senators don't know what they are talking about and declined basic research, or lied about existing law. Let's apply Hanlon's razor, and assume stupidity instead of malice. That makes for some pretty aggressive stupidity.

The Senators sent this letter to at least 28 shipping carriers. It openly suggests these shipping carriers are contributing to gun violence:

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.

Imagine accusing strangers of contributing to gun violence by violating the law, without having the decency to Google the law first.

Indecency aside, the letter was apparently effective. UPS was the last major carrier still aligned with the law. Now it's aligned with these Senators. Now it treats handguns – the most common type of firearm – with the same strictness as machine guns – the most uncommon and burdensome to acquire.

What shipping methods are allowed?

Each shipping carrier has different policies when it comes to handguns, long guns, ammunition, etc. To see what shipping methods are available for each type, check out GunTab's comprehensive list.

If you're buying or selling gun-related items online, there's only one safe way: GunTab. It's like PayPal for gun stuff, plus we provide guidance for every transaction – including what shipping methods can be used in your particular case. You can try it right now.