Attorney General John O’Connor and 17 other state attorneys general are challenging new policies implemented by major shipping companies to obtain data on gun purchasers with unprecedented specificity. These policies could allow federal agencies to bypass warrant requirements to obtain that information.
UPS and FedEx are reportedly now burdening federal firearm license (FFL) holders by requiring them to ship separately and track firearms, firearms parts, and firearm products. This surveillance would allow gun purchases and purchasers to be tracked and that information to be used or shared by the companies.
General O’Connor and the coalition of attorneys general sent letters today to both companies requesting additional information on their new policies and asking whether the effort was coordinated with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
“These demands, in tandem, allow [UPS/FedEx] to create a database of American gun purchasers and determine exactly what items they purchased. This could strip Americans of their rights to require federal agencies to follow due process to obtain warrants for that information in certain instances. This allows UPS and 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.”
In addition to requesting updated FFL-related shipping policies from the two companies, Attorney General O’Connor asked them to clarify the following:
- Did UPS/FedEx enact these policies with the goal of information sharing with the ATF or any other federal agency;
- Did UPS/FedEx enact these policies at the request of officials in ATF, a different federal agency, or on its own initiative;
- If UPS/FedEx implemented these policies at the request of a federal agency, please identify that agency, the officials who made that request, the nature of that communication, and any legal authorization cited by those officials;
- If UPS/FedEx changed its policies on its own initiative, please explain why it made those changes;
- Did UPS/FedEx communicate or coordinate with each other in making these changes; and
- Did ATF or other federal agency employees help draft the updated shipping agreements?
Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen led the effort. In addition to Knudsen and Attorney General O’Connor, attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming signed one or both letters.
Click here to read the letters.