In an effort led by Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, 18 state attorneys general are asking major shipping companies to clarify new policies allowing them to track firearm sales with unprecedented specificity and bypass warrant requirements to share that information with federal agencies.
Reports from Montana federal firearm license (FFL) holders made to Knudsen’s office indicate that UPS and FedEx are now requiring them to ship separately and track firearms, firearms parts, and firearm products. This is done allegedly so gun purchases can be tracked and retain documents about what specific items those shipments contain and make that information available to the companies upon request, according to an announcement from Knudsen’s office.
The coalition of attorneys general sent letters Tuesday to leadership at both companies requesting additional information on their new policies and the possibility that the effort was coordinated in part 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… 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,” Attorney General Knudsen’s 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, Knudsen asked them to clarify the following:
- Did UPS/FedEx enact these policies with the goal of information sharing with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (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?
In addition to Knudsen, 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 signed one or both letters.