Wednesday, February 20, 2013 is NOT anti-gun!

I've been getting more and more annoyed by semi-informed bloggers and other commentators who are jumping to conclusions, and claiming that is somehow anti-gun because of some of its policiesNothing 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.



Jennifer said...

Thank you for that! I was feeling the same thing and waiting for some actual confirmation. I haven't seen any evidence of them pulling firearm related products. The accusation is too vague to be believed.

Retired Mustang said...

Unfortunately, some in the pro-gun community, if I may call it that, have a tendency to see anything that doesn't fit with how they think things ought to be as evidence of caving in to the anti-gun crowd, or worse, evidence of a vast conspiracy. From my perspective, we have enough real opponents. We don't need to invent more.

ROger Ritter said...

One minor note. I think only the recipient of the magazine would be guilty of a felony. Since it was legal to send when it was sent, the constitutional restriction against ex post facto laws should protect the sender.

Of course, I'm not a lawyer, so this tidbit is worth exactly what you paid for it, and possibly less!

Anonymous said...

I think it was that donation of $30k to the Seattle Police Foundation... Very anti-gun indeed.

But Amazon has deep-pockets and if they were 'staunchly' anti-gun, they could have donated a whale of a lot more money, not even noticed, and taken the tax write off. They gave them, what I consider to be a paltry amount for a successful company donation. They are based in Seattle and must survive there, bless them... Wish they would move to Texas. We know how to treat successful companies (mostly).

Anonymous said...

I will continue with this: the lawyers' Mostyn of Austin Texas, for example, donated 1 million dollars. They are successful parasites, no doubt (oops, now I will be sued!!), but I doubt they make as much as Amazon. Just a small illustration.

Oh, and yes, the Mostyns (a married couple) live in Austin, TX. So even in Texas, twits abound. But luckily they are mostly in Austin.

Those of us not in Austin define it as '35 square miles surrounded by reality'.

Yep. Austin's claim to fame besides being the (terrible) live music capital of the world is "keep Austin weird' bumper stickers. Joy. Keep it contained, too.

That's what happens when you have a major university in a small community. The brainless tend to run rampant. The trouble with Austin is that it is actually 'Neverland', where you don't ever have to grow up. A whole city of Peter Pans.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I wouldn't care to be in the business of selling items over the internet. I think the (longstanding) legal issues over borders and taxes, be they state or national, are coming home...and they ain't pretty.

Old NFO said...

Concur with you Peter, and they DO get caught up in some strange situations... E.g. a computer CASE, plastic one each, cannot be shipped overseas because it says computer, and thus becomes an ITAR issue...

Will Brown said...

I don't know if you number me amongst those you rail against Peter, but I disagree with your characterization if you do. Telling Amazon about the allegation being made, informing them of the potential consequences if true, and inquiring as to their response is both simple good business practice by me the consumer and a pure example of robust exchange of views between members of the same society (given that is international in stature).

None of which is to say that you don't make valid points. The burden of defending and promoting Amazons reputation is Amazon's, making - and abiding by - the terms of our shared business relationship clear is equally the burden of both transacting parties. I suggest my inquiry is a good faith effort to hold up my end of that relationship. I await Jeff Bezos' reply.

Peter said...

@Will Brown: If I came across as 'railing against' anyone, I apologize - that wasn't my intent. I was trying to make the point that Amazon can only be judged in the context of the environment within which it operates - and that environment is tricky enough, and has enough political, social and emotional land-mines, that it would try the patience of a saint! I think they're doing the best they can.

While on the subject, I was informed today by an Amazon employee that the company doesn't ship any Hazmat items at all. The costs involved are horrendous, and merely having such items in its warehouses, along with everything else, would drive its insurance rates through the roof. Ergo - no Hazmat from Amazon (although some other companies sell Hazmat items, such as road flares, using Amazon's Web site, but shipping the goods from their own facilities).