Shopify restricts the sale of firearms

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The online shops platform and provider Shopify has said that it will be restricting the sale of some firearms and related items in a policy update that has attracted controversy.

Under the new rules, some semi-automatic firearms and 3D-printed firearms are now restricted under Shopify rules and not permitted for sale in any Shopify shop. Specifically, semi-automatic weapons that can hold more than 10 bullets are now banned. Some related accessories are also restricted including so-called ‘bump stocks’, silencers and flash suppressors.

The company says that only a small number of stores will be impacted by the change announced on Monday. Some merchants who will be detrimentally restricted have criticised the Canadian company for attacking what they believe to be constitutional rights in the USA under the second amendment. It’s worth noting that, unlike on eBay or instance, this is not a comprehensive blanket ban on the sale of all firearms.

Solely deferring to the law, in this age of political gridlock, is too idealistic and functionally unworkable on the fast-moving internet. 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.
– Tobi Lutke, CEO, Shopify

To most northern European sensibilities, putting limits on the sale of firearms is unproblematic and even attractive. But in the United States it is an issue that attracts heated passions and more outrage. This policy change from Shopify presses a lot of those buttons.

It is perhaps a useful reminder though, even if you’re not trading directly on marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, who have a history of interventionism, that platforms of all sorts have total power over what you sell. It could be guns or garters. If a new policy comes into force that limits your business then that is frustrating and potentially ruinous.

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