This week Shopify made changes to its Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) that now includes a detailed list of products that are not legal for sale on the platform.

Specifically, with this AUP update, the company targeted gun shops that use its platform to sell certain types of weapons and gun parts online.

The full restrictions imposed by this new policy from Shopify include:

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

Seller(s) Upset

Some existing sellers are upset with this new policy as it seems to have come out of the blue and the company has provided no guidance on when or how this ban will impact existing stores.

According to the Toronto Star, firearm-maker Spike’s Tactical, which sells more than 1,300 firearms-related products on Shopify, was given no warning about the new policy.

It’s General Manager, Cole Leleux, said this will significantly impact their business as they will have to find a new online platform to rebuild their web operations.

“To take someone’s money and agree to services and then change your policy that dramatically overnight, potentially costs a bunch of businesses and people’s jobs. It’s just wrong,” he said to the Toronto Star.

Leleux further explained to the newspaper, “We have about $100,000 wrapped up in our website and I expect we will have to invest that in a new business. We are a big enough company to absorb that, but there are a lot of smaller companies that will not be able to.”

He also said he was frustrated because Shopify only sent out an email informing him of this policy change with minimal details. And one Shopify representative he spoke with stated that a timeline has not been established yet for the changes.

Social media is also full of opinions on the policy by Shopify.

Tobias Lütke Evolves and Defends New Position

In a blog post by Tobias Lütke, CEO of Shopify, he defends the new policy.

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

The legislative process is no match for the realities of the internet and has ground to a halt on contentious issues. Some of those issues, such as hateful content, remain legally undefined. Others are legally addressed for a physical world, but pose different and more complicated risks on the internet. 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.”

Gun control is an emotional debate in the U.S. with a highly entrenched electorate for and against stricter gun control.

While other marketplaces already have similar firearms sale restrictions, this seems to be a bit of odd timing to announce this policy change just as the U.S. midterm election season gets into full swing.

It will be interesting to follow how this may shake out for Shopify and if it makes it into the political discourse this fall.

READ MORE: Sales Growth on Shopify Slows Down

What is your thought on Shopify banning certain weapon from its platform? Head over to our Facebook Discussion Group or use the comments section below.

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