A long-standing bedrock conservative principle has been to minimize government interference in the free enterprise system. It’s a philosophy that holds any mingling between bureaucracy and business should be limited to activity that protects the public’s interests and while also promoting commerce.
Yet a group of 15 Republican U.S. senators have gone against the grain when it comes to certain companies, essentially dictating how they think their operations should be run based on the senators’ views on the Second Amendment.
The senators feel freight and shipping companies don’t have the right to refuse to take packages that contain firearms or ammunition. They recently sent letters that “demand the companies explain why they implemented discriminatory policies and disclose if they coordinated with any gun-control activists to craft the policies,” according to a news release from the authors.
The GOP lawmakers who’ve signed the letters are Sens. Ted Budd of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Mike Crapo and Jim Risch of Idaho, Ted Cruz of Texas, Steve Daines of Montana, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Cynthia Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, Mike Lee of Utah, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott of Florida, and Eric Schmitt of Missouri.
Their letters were sent to DHL, Saia and XPO Logistics, although the news release said “several large freight and shipping companies have implemented policies that discriminate against the firearm and ammunition industries …”
For starters, the choice of the word “discriminate” in the letter is rather ironic coming from conservatives, who balk when the same term is applied to their positions on immigrants, people of color, women, LGBTQ+ individuals and other marginalized communities.
The more glaring contradiction is the senators’ attack on companies that have simply made a business decision they feel is in their best interest. While conservatives want to believe there are nefarious far-left motives at work, the more likely scenario involves business leaders worried about their bottom line and liability when shipped firearms and ammunition inevitably end up in the wrong hands with tragic results.
If this worst-case scenario hasn’t crossed their minds, these business leaders have certainly considered the hit to their profits when establishing their firearms policy —knowing gun rights proponents would spend their money elsewhere — and still went ahead with it.
Even if an anti-gun corporate conscience is at work here, the senators are still stepping over the line with their attempt to bend the shipping industry to their will. Members of Congress, especially Republicans, typically don’t make it a habit to meddle in corporate matters.
The National Rifle Association has waged its own campaign to slam companies that refuse to ship guns and ammo. FedEx and UPS won’t handle shipments from gun owners who don’t hold a federal firearm license (FFL), the permit gun dealers must hold.
Both companies will work with FFL holders, and gun owners without a license can still ship through the U.S. Postal Service under certain conditions. Arguments that shipping companies are denying gun owners access to the marketplace don’t float. Just ask knowledgeable folks in law enforcement, and they will confirm unlicensed gun owners will find a way to get products to someone willing to pay the right price.
It’s noteworthy that these 15 senators who have a problem with gun control activists potentially shaping corporate policy have absolutely no qualms with accepting generous contributions from gun rights organizations. The National Rifle Association has directed nearly $13 million to 14 of the lawmakers who penned the letter, with most of the money going to outside groups that have supported the senators’ campaigns or opposed their challengers. The donation totals, compiled by OpenSecrets.org, are as of Jan. 23.
Four of the senators — Budd, Cassidy, Ernst and Rubio — rank among the top 10 members of Congress benefitting from NRA money. One, Florida’s Rick Scott, hasn’t received any money from the NRA, but other gun rights groups have contributed almost $66,000 to support him.
Until these 15 senators return this money to the gun rights lobby and reject any such spending that backs their cause, their indignation aimed at shipping companies amounts to shooting blanks.