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A little-known skirmish in the war on guns is being waged by FedEx and UPS against European auction houses and dealers and American collectors of antique arms. By imposing new restrictions to their list of “Items Unacceptable for Carriage,” these shippers now refuse to ship antique firearms to the U.S.A., even though current U.S. law and regulation permits importation freely of an “Antique Firearm” defined as “Any firearm (including any firearm with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system) manufactured in or before 1898,” (emphasis mine) treating them exactly the same as an antique Venetian glass epergne or Staffordshire tureen.
Instead, Fed Ex has chosen to class antique arms with: “human corpses…explosives…hazardous waste…dead animals…packages that are wet, leaking or emitting odors of any kind “as well as items requiring special permits or licenses and those prohibited by law or regulation. UPS states simply that they “will not accept firearms (including handguns) for shipment internationally.” As one frustrated European dealer put it:
“We’ve got the rights and the permits to sell you our items. You have the rights and permits to buy them. We don’t know how to let you have them, as the people who run 90% of the world private shipping business out of the blue decided they don’t take these items any more. Ok by the law, not ok for them.”
Compared to the president’s idea of “take the guns first, go through due process second,” this inconvenience for a few is hardly a major constitutional issue. Preventing a collector from augmenting his wheel lock collection does not rise to the level of denying legal ownership of a firearm to a twenty-year old for self-defense at a time of diminished confidence that local as well as federal authorities can protect us. It is not a big deal – just another pain in the butt – like all the other pains in the butt imposed on the innocent and the law abiding by government failure, corporate virtue-signaling, and defensive lawyering. They get all the benefits from imposing annoyances like this and the thousands more we suffer daily. They keep their jobs, get the invitations to the posh galas, and keep those billable hours coming in. We have to adjust our expectations and find work-arounds to conduct legal commercial transactions. As the European auction house guy puts it: “but this also might stop any day now if someone in the company decides to look again at the policy. We get no final word on anything at this stage, and we lose business.”