18 States Ask UPS and FedEx to Clarify Gun-Purchase Tracking Polices

Efthymis Oraiopoulos
By Efthymis Oraiopoulos
November 30, 2022US News
18 States Ask UPS and FedEx to Clarify Gun-Purchase Tracking Polices
A sales associate arranges guns on display at Burbank Ammo & Guns in Burbank, Calif., on June 23, 2022. (Jae C. Hong/AP Photo)

Eighteen state attorneys general on Tuesday asked for clarification from shipping companies—UPS and FedEx—about their new policies for tracking firearm sales.

In letters to both companies (pdf), the state attorneys—led by Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen—said they are concerned that the new policies bypass warrant requirements and share information about a parcel’s content with federal agencies.

A concern of the letters—tailored to each shipping company—was that federal agencies may now know what type of firearms were bought by which person in the United States.

More specifically, Montana federal firearm license holders told Knudsen that UPS and FedEx now require them to ship separately and also track firearms, firearm parts, and firearm products, and in that way, a gun purchase can be tracked.

UPS and FedEx are now requiring gun companies to retain documents about items contained in the shipments, and all that information should be provided to the shipping companies upon request.

“These demands, in tandem, allow [UPS/FedEx] to create a database of American gun purchasers and determine exactly what items they purchased… In doing so you, perhaps inadvertently, give federal agencies a workaround to normal warrant requirements. This allows [UPS/FedEx] to provide information at will or upon request to federal agencies—information detailing which Americans are buying what guns,” the letters state.

“Additionally, we recommend that you consider taking actions to limit potential liability moving forward, including the immediate cessation of any existing warrantless information sharing with federal agencies about gun shipments.”

The letters also asked if UPS and FedEx cooperated with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) for the creation of the new policies, if they enacted the policies at the request of the ATF, and what was their goal.

The letters also asked whether the two shipping companies coordinated with each other in making the changes.

The letter to FedEx also expressed concern over how their new firearms shipping agreement contains a gag clause that allegedly instructs gun store owners that the agreement is “confidential and shall be held in strict confidence by both parties and may not be disclosed unless required by law.”

Joining Knudsen in the effort were the state attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming, who signed one or both letters.

ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.