I've been getting more and more annoyed by semi-informed bloggers and other commentators who are jumping to conclusions, and claiming that Amazon.com is somehow anti-gun because of some of its policies. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Over the past month I've spent more than a thousand dollars on gun-related items from Amazon, and expect to spend much more on similar items over the next year or two. My recent purchases have included, amongst other things:
- An adjustable shotgun stock;
- A laser boresighter;
- A laser rangefinder;
- Several rifle scopes, plus mounts and rings of various types; and
- A gunsmithing tool kit.
Those purchases certainly don't provide any evidence of anti-gun policies that I can see!
What's happening is simply that Amazon is finding itself subject to a horrendous mish-mash of laws, some federal, some state and some local. It may be legally able to sell certain products in one state, but not in another (for example, black-powder muzzle-loading firearms are not classified as 'firearms' under federal law, and most states follow this definition - but some states do classify them as firearms, and regulate them accordingly); or in parts of one state, but not in other parts of the same state (e.g. Illinois in general versus more restrictive regulations in Chicago and Cook County); or in one country, but not in another. Furthermore, those laws can change with bewildering speed. What was legal yesterday may not be legal today. (Consider, for example, that New York state's new firearms restrictions were voted upon and signed into law in less than twenty-four hours. A regular-capacity pistol magazine, mailed to a New York state resident on the day of the vote, would have arrived after the law had been signed. That would have made it illegal in that state - and made the sender guilty of a felony offense!)
Amazon's terms and conditions of sale for firearms-related items (which may be found here) merely take this reality into account. The company tries hard to meet our needs as firearms owners and enthusiasts, and as far as I'm concerned, it's doing a pretty good job. I'm sure it would like to sell us many more items than it does - after all, it's in business to make a profit! However, it's caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. If it sells anything that can be remotely construed as related to assault weapons or similar firearms, which are currently being demonized by the Obama administration and its enthusiastic cronies and henchmen in the media, Amazon risks being pilloried by anti-gun forces on the Left. If it restricts too many items from being sold due to that risk, it risks being excoriated by pro-gun forces on the Right (as happened, for example, in this blog post). Worse, Amazon may find itself subject to criminal charges if it ships the wrong item to the wrong location. Its only recourse is to refuse to list or carry such items, and anything else that might suddenly be criminalized in one or more jurisdictions.
Amazon is trying to steer a 'middle course' through rocks and shoals on both sides. I don't blame it for being over-cautious in some respects. Having been a director of companies in my younger days, and holding a Masters degree in management, I can assure you that if I were in charge of that part of its business, I'd be at least as cautious, if not more so! It's doing the best it can under extraordinarily difficult circumstances. I think we, as firearms owners and enthusiasts, should be grateful that it's doing as much for us as it can, and assure it of our ongoing support in its efforts to do so. If, instead, we merely complain bitterly that it's not meeting our expectations, Amazon might just decide that we and our market are more trouble than we're worth - and that's the last thing I want to happen!
I'll continue to shop at Amazon for as many firearms-related items as I can find there at better prices than elsewhere. I hope other shooters will do likewise - and I hope other bloggers will also point out to their readers that allegations that the company is somehow 'anti-gun' are ludicrous.