New Shopify Policy is a De Facto Gun Ban

New Shopify Policy is a De Facto Gun Ban
Online retailer service provider, Shopify’s logo.

Canadian online-store provider Shopify, formally banned the sale of, “Certain Firearms and Certain Firearm Accessories” three days ago on the 13th of August VIA its AUP or Acceptable Use Policy definition page.

This all comes in the wake of massive information sharing companies passing sweeping policies to ban opinions that run contrary to their own.

Infowars host, Alex Jones, recently received a ban from Facebook and Youtube for his controversial political statements.

The massive online retailer failed to notify sellers in advance, and predictably earned the ire of many of these sellers. One such seller, is Spike’s Tactical General Manager, Cole LeLeux.

In a telephone interview with LeLeux, he explained, “Shopify emailed us at 9PM EST, Monday night stating they had updated their AUP.”

What this seemingly mundane email neglected to mention, was that this new AUP is basically a verbatim regurgitation of the California Assault Weapons Ban. The complete listing is as follows:

The definitions listed below (“AUP Definitions”) apply to Shopify's Acceptable Use Policy (“AUP”). Shopify reserves the right to update and change the AUP Definitions at any time.

“Materials” means any photo, image, video, graphic, written content, audio file, code, information, data or other content uploaded, collected, generated, stored, displayed, distributed, transmitted or exhibited on or in connection with your Account.

“Restricted Items” means:

Certain Firearms

  • an automatic firearm that has not been rendered inoperable
  • a semi-automatic firearm that has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine, with one or more of the following items:
    • magazine capable of accepting more than 10 rounds
    • bump stock
    • rapid fire trigger activator or trigger crank
    • barrel shroud
    • thumbhole stock
    • threaded barrel capable of accepting a flash suppressor, sound suppressor or silencer
    • grenade or rocket launcher
    • flash suppressor, sound suppressor or silencer
    • pistol grip (or in the case of a pistol, a second pistol grip)
    • forward pistol grip
  • a semi-automatic firearm that has a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds
  • firearms without serial numbers
  • ghost guns and 3D printed guns, including blueprints for such guns
  • any part, component or kit for any firearm or gun listed above

Certain Firearm Parts

  • 80% or unfinished lower receivers
  • magazine capable of accepting more than 10 rounds
  • bump stock
  • grenade or rocket launcher
  • pistol grip (or in the case of a pistol, a second pistol grip)
  • forward pistol grip
  • barrel shroud*
  • thumbhole stock*
  • threaded barrel capable of accepting a flash suppressor, sound suppressor or silencer*
  • flash suppressor, sound suppressor or silencer*
  • rapid fire trigger activator or trigger crank
  • any part, component or kit for a firearm part or including a firearm part listed above

*only if for use with a semi-automatic firearm

When Spikes Tactical reached out to Shopify for clarification and a concrete cutoff date for compliance, they were met with silence.

And while Shopify didn’t formally announce the official reason for their new policy, their CEO, Tobias Lütke updated a 2017 blog post titled, “In Support of Free Speech” in response.

Tobias_Lutke_Shopify’s CEO, Tobias Lütke.

In this post, Lütke wrote, “Solely deferring to the law, in this age of political gridlock, is too idealistic and functionally unworkable on the fast moving internet.”

Tobias further clarifies his position on the issue by stating, “So we have found ourselves in a position of having to make our own decisions on some of these issues. And along the way we had to accept that neutrality is not a possibility.

We addressed this vacuum by creating a carefully crafted Acceptable Use Policy which allows space for all types of products, even the ones that we disagree with, but not for the kind of products intended to harm” 

Despite referring to the updated AUP as, “carefully crafted” it is clearly a copy of the Californian AWB. Plus, it’s uncertain how carefully crafted a policy that seeks to ban the online sale of rocket launchers could be - since these items are among the most regulated, and difficult to obtain. -Unless you’re friends with anti-gun former California Senator, Leland Yee.

Despite banning rocket launchers for sale on their site, the only person to who could procure these heavily restricted items in the United States, is disgraced former California Senator, Leland Yee.

Though what’s more interesting, is that this update runs contrary to the original post’s thesis of supporting freedom of commerce and freedom of speech.

Originally, Lütke wrote in support of Shopify’s decision to retain Breitbart as a client despite disagreeing with them politically.

The original post even included the following statement defending their stance to keep Breitbart:

“It would be easy to kick off merchants we don’t like, and doing so would actually make our lives significantly easier.”

 Apparently, the political winds have changed enough that Shopify is no longer capable of taking the moral high ground, adhering to the founding principles of liberty and freedom of speech.

But the CEO went even further, adding,

 ”I’m against exclusion of any kind-- where that’s restricting people from Muslim-majority nations from entering the US, or kicking merchants off our platform if they're operating within the law.”

 The key portion of that quote being, “...if they’re operating within the law”. Since the affected online sellers are doing precisely that, it begs the question what was the catalyst behind the CEO’s sudden change of heart?

Perhaps it was the recent slaying of two Canadian police officers along with two civilians on August 10th. Who, were by all accounts, not slain with products purchased from a Shopify client.

If the slaying were the reason, it would also run contrary to the original blog post’s message. Initially, Lütke took a classical, Evelyn Beatrice Hall approach to freedom of speech. The whole, I may disagree with what you say, but will defend your right to say it. But this libertarian righteous indignation was short-lived, despite Lütke prophetically writing,”

We [Shopify] are a service provider. We do not, and will not, refuse the Shopify service to anyone based on their political views, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc. Doing so could set a dangerous precedent of exclusion.”

Though this words offer little solace to online firearm, and firearm accessory retailers who utilize Shopify for their livelihood. Though articles featured on and don’t mention these ramifications in their articles on the decision.

Instead opting to include disingenuous headlines like “Shopify Bans 3D-Printed Guns” and including media clips with foreboding music atop of footage of Americans shooting paper targets followed by unrelated statistics. “Firearms are involved in the deaths of more than 33,000 people every year.”

BloombergPropaganda’s video on the ban suggests a correlation between lawful gun ownership, and firearm-related deaths in America.

This sort of suggestive propaganda of not outright stateing, but associating by proximity is as clever as it is dishonest. It is akin to stating, “Anheuser Busch produces more than 125 million barrels of beer each year.” Followed by,  “In 2017, 10,000 Americans died in drunk-driving accidents.”

The average reader is left with the conclusion, if only Budweiser weren’t producing so many dangerous beers, fewer Americans would die in car accidents. Obviously, this is laughably untrue. A much wiser person than me once stated, “correlation doesn’t equal causation.”

Especially since drunk driving, like accidental firearms deaths, are 100% preventable. Plus, the term “deaths” is intellectually dishonest. Whenever firearm deaths are used as a metric in a statistic, it’s done to include suicides, justified shootings like self defense, and gang violence.

Yet, the information is conveyed - either openly or by proximity to unrelated information - to suggest that America is suffering an unprecedented epidemic of gun violence.

What these new agencies should be concentrating on, are the underlying elements of Shopify’s reasoning behind the new policies, as well as the ramifications. This policy shift only makes it more difficult for lawful citizens to purchase legal firearms and their accessories.




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