Friday, October 08, 1999

UPS stops delivering handguns by ground

The Associated Press

        ATLANTA — United Parcel Service said Thursday it will stop delivering handguns through its regular ground service because the weapons are too easily stolen from the company's trucks.

        Atlanta-based UPS — which handles the vast majority of firearms shipments — will allow customers to ship handguns only through its more expensive air service beginning Monday.

        “This is the best way for us to add security to the movement of these weapons,” said UPS spokesman Norman Black, who estimated hundreds of handguns are stolen from the carrier each year.

        UPS's Next Day Air service is a separate, more controlled system in which packages are handled by fewer people and stay in the system for only one night, Mr. Black said.

        The company will continue to ship rifles and shotguns by ground because they are more difficult to steal.

        Industry leaders say UPS handles about 75 percent of guns sent from manufacturers to distributors and nearly all firearms shipped from distributors to dealers.

        UPS's biggest competitor, Federal Express, has restricted guns to its Priority Overnight service for 20 years. Airborne Express, the No. 3 express carrier, also restricts guns to air shipments.

        The Postal Service will not ship handguns unless they are being sent to a law enforcement agency or among gun dealers and makers.

        Jim Chambers, executive director of the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute, said shipping handguns via air could cost three to four times more than ground shipment, although Mr. Black said that estimate is “completely out of the ballpark.”

        Even so, Mr. Chambers said the gun industry will look at alternatives to air shipments.

        “We're not interested in a haphazard way to ship firearms though the system,” he added. “We don't want to see firearms get into the wrong hands anymore than anyone else does.”


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- UPS stops delivering handguns by ground