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"walls of the city" logo conceptualized by Oleg Volk and executed by Linoge. Logo is © "walls of the city".

normalization

A conversation yesterday evening between myself an a FedEx shipping employee, while filling out the shipping forms: 

Her:  So what are you shipping? 

Me:  A rifle. 

Her:  A rif… and who are you shipping it to? 

Me:  The company that made it. 

Her:  Oh.  Ok.  Carry on! 

Of course, this illustrates the idiocy of requiring interstate firearm transfers to go through an Federal Firearm License holder; I am fairly certain neither UPS nor FedEx nor the USPS x-ray the packages that go through their systems (I could be wrong on this, and I thoroughly doubt they x-ray every package), so I could simply lie and proclaim the package to be containing whatever I want.  They would be none the wiser, the package would make it to its intended recipient, and no FFLs would be engaged in the process. 

Is that (currently) a (malum prohibitum) crime?  Absolutely.  Would anyone find out?  Probably not.  Is there any way to stop me from committing said crime?  Probably not, and certainly not the way the current shipping industries are set up.  And who exactly would be harmed if I broke that law?  Not a soul. 

And people wonder why my tolerance for government at a whole is at an all-time low and dropping… 

7 comments to normalization

  • I’ve got an example. I wanted some engraving done to two of my lowers. Shipping from me to an FFL for gunsmithing is legal. When I took them to UPS there was much delay while the counter person confirmed that it was legal for me to be shipping “guns” to a gunsmith for work.

    There was a problem with one of the lowers, so I had to ship it back to be done over.

    This time I forgot to tell the drone it was a gun.

    Guess what shipped and made it to the smith without any issues?

  • larry weeks

    Took an AR upper to a UPS Store – they are not UPS – showed it to him, had to really work to get him to understand the upper is not a gun. After that was solved, he didn’t even ask about the hard case that had my pistol in it, must have thought it was a camera. I didn’t say anything since they apparently will not ship a gun, of any sort, for any reason.

  • Tom

    I have never shipped a gun or gun part, but I have received uppers, barrels and other black gun parts at my home. The only ones that have required signatures are the high dollar ones. I have heard but have never verified that the shippers sometimes x ray packages. That said, how many people could actually look at an x ray image of an AR lower and tell you what it is, let alone knowing it qualifies as a firearm with the ATF? Now replace “people” with “bored UPS employee” and the likelihood drops even more.

    The idiocy of regulations of interstate transfers is just a symptom of criminalizing the object, not the criminal. If you buy a gun in-state, or have it shipped to you from out-of-state, and you commit a crime with it, you go to jail for a long time.

  • Archer

    Tangentially related: a few weeks ago I was buying some .22LR at the local Walmart, and when the lady scanned it the register beeped, prompting her to ask if it was for a rifle or a pistol. I assume that if an 18-20 year-old answers “Pistol”, the sale will be canceled.

    But Walmart has no way of knowing how the products they sell will be used or if their customers answer honestly. If said 18-20 year old says “Rifle” to get the sale, then feeds it through a handgun, I’m sure some prosecutor could find a crime to charge him/her with. But just like shipping, it’s ONLY a crime because regulations say it is. It doesn’t harm anyone. There nothing morally wrong with purchasing ammunition for a legally-owned firearm (for anyone with sense; the antis will disagree). There’s also no way to stop it from happening, and it’s highly unlikely anyone would find out anyway. But it’s a crime malum prohibitum nonetheless.

    Gun laws. Are. Dumb.

  • @ McThag: Yeah, see, that! If they do not ask, they never know, and even if they do ask, how do they guarantee you are telling the truth? The TSA may be the most obvious example of Security Theater in the modern world, but it is certainly not the only instance.

    @ larry weeks: I have given up on UPS. Despite their own webpage saying they will ship firearms, they absolutely refused to ship a handgun from me to a “licensed dealer”, despite me bringing in a printout of those procedures. Screw them. FedEx went and checked their manual or whatnot, confirmed that the handgun was packaged according to their requirements, and sent it on its merry way. They will pretty much have my business for the foreseeable future.

    @ Tom: Hell, depending on its orientation in the box, a stripped AR15 lower would probably confuse the hell out of me for a minute or two. A stripped AK frame would appear to be nothing at all of any significance.

    But, yeah, this all boils down to trying to legislate the item, rather than the activity. Both are invariably doomed, but you can punish the latter far more effectively than the former.

    @ Archer: So far as I am aware (and I confess to not having researched the laws that considerably myself), there is no legislative reason a minor cannot purchase ammunition for a handgun; my understanding is that is a store policy by Wal-Mart itself, and probably has something to do with their friendliness with MAIG. That said, scant few pistol caliber cartridges cannot be fed into an appropriate caliber carbine, so the restriction is all but pointless these days regardless.

  • Archer

    @ Linoge: I should have been more specific: OR state law prohibits sale of rifle ammo to individuals under 18 and handgun ammo to individuals under 21 (I think the shotgun ammo age is 16, but I’m not sure offhand). To my knowledge, this law pre-dates MAIG by a considerable amount; other than Portland’s last mayor, we don’t have much MAIG presence.

    Also to my knowledge, even though they make pistol-caliber carbines (having shot a 9mm myself; they’re kinda neat) and small-bore shot-shell handguns (i.e. Taurus Judge in .410), by law 9mm is still considered “handgun ammunition” and .410 is considered “shotgun ammunition” at the sales register. This doesn’t even touch all the “AR-15 Pistols” now on the market, many of which are still 5.56 NATO/.223 Rem, but are usually not considered “rifles”.

    Only .22LR sales prompt them to ask – presumably because handguns and rifles in that caliber are “in common use” – but again, there is NO way for them to verify its intended use and NOTHING to stop an individual from lying about it to make the sale.

    Any harm done? No. Still a crime? Yes.

    As I said: Gun laws. Are. Dumb.

  • Ah, yeah, state laws would explain it :). And, yes, if the law is written in such a way to require all that nonsense, it is, indeed, stupid. But, unfortunately, the vast majority of firearm-related laws are written in such an incomplete or overly specific fashion as to be pointless; just goes to show that knowledgeable people rarely write laws.