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I'm in favor of banning porn ads (generally), since those tend to be offensive to a lot of people and also are highly correlated with spammy behavior, but I'd be tempted to boycott a vendor who prohibited weapons ads for any reason other than legal compliance.

Amazon is pretty reasonable (knives are fine, firearms accessories are fine, but firearms and ammunition are out due to compliance issues). Google has no excuse.

> Amazon is pretty reasonable (knives are fine, firearms accessories are fine, but firearms and ammunition are out

As a target shooter, I don't find this any more reasonable than a gay person might find "personal ads are fine, but not gay personal ads".

All too often our definition of "reasonable" is "gores HIS ox but not mine".

You ignored the important part: "Due to compliance issues".

I'm not familiar with the legal issues. However, it is perfectly reasonable for Amazon to comply with the law. Perhaps the laws are stupid, but that's not Amazon's fight.

The compliant issues you mention (for the most part) do not exist.

There are very few extra legal limitations for selling ammunition over the internet. These legal limitations could be shifted to third-party retailers, with Amazon as a middleman only.

There are literally no extra legal limitations or regulations for a company selling (non-firearm) firearm parts, which Amazon does not allow.

Selling ammunition requires roughly the same amount of legal red tape as selling knives or tasers (which Amazon already does).

I didn't realize Amazon didn't allow non-firearm firearms parts, since I've bought ~10k in knoxx stocks, slings, sidesaddles, ammo holders, holsters, etc. through their marketplace. It's possible they just don't enforce it very well.

Apparently their policy (http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=2...) allows a lot of things, but not other things, in a not entirely consistent way. Primers and brass are ok, but not bullets. Stocks are fine, but not barrels. wtf.

There are some parts where Amazon would have liability. Magazines, for instance, especially since Amazon likes to be able to warehouse items wherever it finds most convenient. 30 round magazines would be really complex given that some states ban them.

Sorry, I should clarify. I mean things that are functional pieces of a firearm ("functional" is hard to define here), even if completely legal and unregulated, are not allowed on the Amazon marketplace. Example: FCGs or upper receivers. Cosmetic parts like stocks and handguards seem to be allowed, as you noticed.

As for Magazines introducing liability, Amazon stocks thousands of items like Knives, Tasers, Pepper spray, etc. that are illegal in some states but legal in others (just like magazines).

I wonder if the massive increase in sales demand for firearms, accessories, and ammunition over the past 4 years (and especially in the past 4 months) could cause Amazon to rethink things.

You may think there is unreasonableness here, but is that unreasonableness Amazon's?

For Amazon to enter online sales of weapons, they have to address a mess of state and local compliance issues which are not their core competency. No matter what your opinion is on firearms and ammunition, Amazon's reticence as a business to get involved with that seems very reasonable to me.

Not really -- Amazon would just have to have a policy along the lines of, "We only sell guns via gun stores in your local area," and their legal team would only have to ensure compliance with regulations in 50 states (and whatever other countries they do business in). The last rifle I purchased was from a friend in New York, and he mailed the rifle and the case to a local gun store, which is basically what the law requires. Amazon could do the same in the USA if they were willing to enter that market or were willing to allow third parties to use Amazon for such transactions; I suspect that their corporate image is a bigger issue than the law.

A big part of Amazon's branding is that they sell online, and ship direct to you. Doing as you suggest would involve special messaging and a custom workflow to select the local gun store that they are willing to ship the gun to. Also custom workflow for potential problems and complaints (including a mapping ability to locate those stores, and resolution mechanism if the store chosen turns out to not be there, not willing to participate, etc.)

Not impossible, to be sure. But it sounds like a lot of work and potential customer problems.

Amazon would just have to have a policy along the lines of, "We only sell guns via gun stores in your local area,"

Federal law already requires that anyone selling guns by mail-order do exactly that. A gun can only be shipped to a licensed dealer, who must then perform a background check on the buyer before handing it over. It's common enough that almost all gun stores have a set fee for providing this service.

Amazon doesn't do alcohol, either, which could also be for "corporate image" reasons, but does also have compliance issues (federally but mostly state-by-state).

It could also just be an economic decision, but given that Amazon prohibits certain firearms parts which aren't regulated anywhere (except maybe APO mailing to military, or internationally) like trigger assemblies, it seems more likely a corporate image thing.

Maybe I'm biased on the issue, but I don't find discriminating between categories of personal ads based on level of social prejudice provoked to be remotely comparable to discriminating between categories of object based on lethality and legal restrictions.

I think the difference is that firearms are heavily regulated by localities in different ways.

For example, transport over state lines may require coordination with the shipper. For Amazon, having attorneys stay up to date on the law in multiple jurisdictions doesn't fit with their operating model.

Knives are less difficult regulatory-wise, and where there are local legal issues, they usually aren't serious felonies.

I used to work at a shop that sold firearms (among many other things) online. I didn't see all the laws we had to follow but quite a few I noticed (I worked on the intranet site).

Unless the customer was coming to pick up the weapon themselves (at our location) we would only ship guns to FFL's[1]. The FFL was also the one who did the background check as far as I'm aware. I don't know what percentage of our sales were local pickups but I am guessing we did the background for those (we had an FFL).

They shut down but the company made it up to 70 or so employees. I don't know how we kept up on the laws. Our suppliers might have done that as we were sort of a middleman from the suppliers to the customers. I do remember that we needed to track a lot of things for the ATF and they had to be very accurate. The ATF would come in once a year or so and audit the logs and other things related to shipping. I never saw them but I remember the boss(es) being stressed during those weeks.

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Firearms_License

Yeah, compliance is tricky. You can ship (e.g. a repair, or mailing a firearm to yourself if you don't take luggage on a flight), but it's a huge amount of complexity. Initial sale must be in-person or ship to an FFL or a few exemptions (C&R, CMP, pre-1898, 80%), and of course all the non-firearms parts which Amazon usually does sell. Ammunition is more tightly regulated than e.g. barrels.

Once you add in state laws (e.g. Californians can't buy rifles in Nevada in person, although Nevadans and most other state residents can), and the penalties for non-compliance, and I don't think it's reasonable to require Amazon deal with firearms.

Through Marketplace it might be a little bit more vague. But a pure advertising site should be comfortable running firearms ads. If the owner is personally opposed to firearms, no one is forcing him to carry those ads, but I'm a (very small) part owner of Google, so for a public company, it's probably not a great position to take.

Generally, when selling a gun over state lines, a federally-registered local arms dealer must act as the "seller" and follow normal procedures for selling a firearm, as only dealer to dealer sales are permitted.

> For Amazon, having attorneys stay up to date on the law in multiple jurisdictions doesn't fit with their operating model.

They already calculate local taxes (city and county taxes too!) for the states in which they choose to tax.

The penalties for messing up on on local taxes are a lot less severe than messing up federal firearms laws.

No, it's different. There's lots of laws about firearms and dealing with them can be painful, so it can be reasonable not to do it.

For another example, the pawnshop on Pawn Stars doesn't deal with modern firearms. Because they don't have a license. Because they decided it wasn't worth the hassle/effort/expense.

Dealing with firearms can be hard/expensive compared to selling other things (like knives and accessories). Dealing with gay personal ads is no more hard or expensive than regular personal ads.

Knives are a lot less lethal than guns.

That's bullsh*t, knives kill just as guns do. In the UK we have many more knife related crime than we do gun related crime.

That said, the issue here is not how lethal one is over the other, but Google playing judge,jury and executioner for something they should have no right to jurisdict over.

The UK has knife crime but not knife murder, despite what the fearmongering press would have you believe. The UK murder rate is a quarter that of the US, and is in line with similar countries.

The UK also has 1/5 the US' population - what does all this mean?


4.8 murders per 100,000 in the US vs 1.2 per 100,000 in the UK.

The figures _do_ take size into account.

Yes, I stand corrected. Thanks.

Murder rates are often given per 100,000 inhabitants - so size of country isn't really a factor:

   United States: 4.8
   United Kingdom: 1.2

vacri's statement seems completely accurate.

While I agree the US is far more violent than the UK, most of the US's incremental violence is explained by the drug war. Even if we had zero guns and the UK had US-style gun possession and laws, I suspect US drug laws (and other forms of extreme economic/political/legal inequality) would give us a higher murder rate.

And if we had a more sensible culture around alcohol use in the UK, particularly in my native Scotland, I'm sure we'd have a much lower level of all violence.

A large portion of violent crime (~75%) in the US involves either family members or other acquaintances ("nonstrangers"). I'm sure some of that relates to drugs, but most of it probably doesn't.


Thanks, I missed the important word 'rate' in vacri's post in my haste.

This is a gigantic diversion, but saying that the UK doesn't have knife murder is pretty profoundly ignorant. The last stat I saw was that the UK had some 330+ stabbing murders a year.

There is an implicit "of the scale of gun murder in the US"

Murders in the US are currently sitting at 14k, ~11k of which are from firearms. The US only has 5 times more people than the UK, which would turn your stat into a rough US-equivalent of 1.7k.

Kives are just as lethal as guns? Hey, good news, armies of the world! Stop wasting money on complex mechanical weapons and ammunition, just buy knives! Your soldiers will be just as effective!

Armies don't typically fight unarmed opponents in close quarters. If you're unarmed and the attacker is within a few yards of you, a knife or a gun are not that different.


So lets ban guns then, people only need knives for self defence.

Self defense is not the only reason for the legality of guns.

Overthrowing government is the other I guess?

Good news is that their soldiers will have guns, and you can get a good advantage on them by staying in close quarters environments with your knifes.

Recreation. Target shooting. In countries where guns are not demonized, this is a perfectly acceptable activity.

A murder is a murder, does it really matter whether it is using a gun, a knife or even with bare hands?


I find weapons ads far more offensive than porn ads. Our natural form vs a device whose sole intent is to obliterate said natural form.

How come your measure of offense is more important than mine?

Also, if you want to play community standards, I'm pretty sure the majority of the people who live around Google HQ (Bay Area + SF) would agree with me.

I meant the actual ads themselves, not particularly the products. The average porn banner ad is an assault on the eyes, even if you're in the market for porn. I don't know if this is inherent to porn or just because it's an impulse-buy information good which is usually advertises through multiple levels of affiliate. Most firearms or knife ads are the name of the product and maybe a static shot of the product. e.g. http://www.blackfriday.fm/bf_image/big/2011/37266_1321045669...

It's a fair argument that porn is pure free speech and thus should be less regulated than guns, or that it's morally superior (although I'd say sex is morally superior to violence; porn is in some most cases morally inferior to sex)

Hey everybody! Let's play "whose offense is more morally justified"!


but I'd be tempted to boycott a vendor who prohibited weapons ads for any reason other than legal compliance

Craigslist is pretty aggressively anti-weapon. Do you boycott them?

I largely boycott craigslist for other reasons (how they've treated companies that build on top of craigslist) already, so it's irrelevant to me. I'd still use them if I had no other choice, but they're my last choice.

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