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Mistaken Rifle Delivery Panics Some, but Highlights Real Problems for Gun Owners

Friday, August 10, 2012

A recent news story from Washington, D.C. highlights just how irrational anti-gun advocates can be about firearms.

A SIG semi-automatic rifle was mistakenly delivered to an address in the nation's capital. It was intended for a gun store in Pennsylvania, but appears to have been accidentally re-labeled in transit. 

Upon opening the box, the recipient decided to take a picture of himself smiling as he stood over the rifle, though he later told a public radio reporter he was "shocked" to have the rifle in his kitchen. Of course, the unloaded rifle posed no threat, as no ammunition was on hand or even available to purchase in D.C.

The recipient notified the D.C. police, who came and seized the gun. At this time it is not known what will happen to the rifle, or if the intended recipient will ever receive the rifle in Pennsylvania, where is it perfectly legal. But the harmless outcome of this random error obviously didn't satisfy the Brady Campaign, whose president, Dan Gross, put out a statement saying "We have to be better than a nation where assault weapons are so prevalent and can so easily end up in dangerous hands. It's deeply disturbing."

In the age of Internet shopping, the amount of goods shipped by common carriers has grown immensely, and by and large, the major cargo companies do a very good job of getting the right packages to the right people. But, inevitably, mistakes will happen when dealing with millions of packages each day.

Unfortunately, gun owners often experience difficulty when legally shipping a firearm, not due to laws or corporate policies, but because of a different kind of error:  personnel working at local shipping offices who simply do not understand the rules for shipping firearms.

Federal law does impose certain restrictions on the shipment of firearms, but each of the common carriers also has policies that go beyond the law in certain ways. Here are links to web pages for UPS, FedEx and USPS that explain their shipping policies. Before shipping a firearm, it is a good idea to print out the information on these pages and have it with you to show any clerk who may not fully understand the rules.

UPS Firearms Shipping Policy

FedEx Firearms Shipping Policy (Section B)

USPS Firearms Shipping Policy

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