December, 1999

Whither UPS?
A Guide to Understanding UPS's New Firearm Shipping Policies

On October 11, 1999, United Parcel Service changed certain internal policies regarding the shipment of firearms.  UPS is the primary common carrier used in the transport of firearms in the United States, and so these policy changes have a significant impact on the Cruffler community.  Since the changes have gone into effect rumors have abounded.  Much of this is caused by UPS's failure to effectively communicate the policy to all its centers, and much of it is due to the confusing nature of the underlying law.  Therefore, we at CRUFFLER.COM (and in particular Shiloh the Wonder Greyhound) have put together this handy guide.

The specific policy changes are as follows:

a) All handguns may only be shipped Next Day Air.  Now, here's a tip. UPS has a service called Next Day Air, and a service called Next Day Air Saver, and both can be used to ship handguns.  The only difference is that Next Day Air Saver packages are delivered with the ground packages in the afternoon, while Next Day Air packages are delivered in the morning.  Next Day Air Saver is significantly less expensive. The Next Day Air requirement does NOT apply to rifles.

b) Firearms shipments may only be made to licensed dealers, collectors, importers, or manufacturers.  This is in keeping with the applicable Federal law. After all, Federal law already requires that you ship to a Federal Firearms Licensee.  The only exceptions are for firearms being returned to a customer by a factory or a gunsmith after a repair or alteration, when a non-licensee mails a rifle or shotgun to a resident of his/her own state, or when a person going on a hunt in another state ships a firearm to his or herself at the hunting location.  Therefore, UPS customer counter representatives will ask you for a copy of either your license or the recipient's license when you go to ship a firearm

UPS changed the policy because too many handguns were disappearing in transit.  Next Day Air packages are accorded a higher level of scrutiny and accountability as they make their journey, and thus tend to fall through the cracks much less often.  Before one complains about passing a corporation's foibles onto a customer, remember that you are getting the gun the day after it is ordered or shipped, and that the price difference is usually a total of $15.00 between the ground rate and the Next Day Air Saver rate.  When you remember that we're talking about a valuable item ($200 - $600 on average), and the increase in the level of service and accountability, suddenly the $15.00 difference really isn't that great.

There are two sections of Federal law with which all Crufflers should be familiar.  The first, Title 18, United States Code, Section 922 (a) (2) (A) reads:

a) It shall be unlawful -
(2) for any importer, manufacturer, dealer, or collector
      licensed under the provisions of this chapter to ship or
      transport in interstate or foreign commerce any firearm to any
      person other than a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer,
      licensed dealer, or licensed collector, except that -
          (A) this paragraph and subsection (b)(3) shall not be held to
        preclude a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, licensed
        dealer, or licensed collector from returning a firearm or
        replacement firearm of the same kind and type to a person from
        whom it was received; and this paragraph shall not be held to
        preclude an individual from mailing a firearm owned in
        compliance with Federal, State, and local law to a licensed
        importer, licensed manufacturer, licensed dealer, or licensed
Clearly then, a non-licensee may ship a firearm to any licensee – there is need only for a Federal Firearms License on the recipient’s end of a transaction.  The confusion arises when one quickly or cursorily reads section 922 (a) (1) (A) of Title 18, which would seem to preclude non-licensees from shipping firearms.  However, a careful reading will show that section 922 (a) (1) (A) only precludes non-licensees from engaging in a business which includes the shipment of firearms as one of its component parts:
2) Engaging in the Business:
Title 18, United States Code, Section 922 (a) (1) (a) reads:
a) It shall be unlawful -
        (1) for any person -
(A)   except a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or
        licensed dealer, to engage in the business of importing,
                  manufacturing, or dealing in firearms, or in the course of such
                  business to ship, transport, or receive any firearm in
                  interstate or foreign commerce;

Please note, this section indicates that only people licensed to engage in the firearms as business may ship, transport or receive firearms as part of their business. It is silent as to the actions of non-licensed persons.  Since the provisions of the Type 03 FFL already prohibit you from engaging in a business, this section simply does not apply to Crufflers!

For example:  Just as a person who sells his land to a realtor is not engaging in the real estate business (the realtor is), and the person who sells his car to a used car dealer is not engaging in the used car business (the used car salesman is), the person who sells a gun to dealer in another state is not engaging in the business (the dealer is), and thus, said person’s actions are not governed by this section.

First off, be patient.  As one BATF inspector quipped, "The law was written by lawyers on quaaludes."  So, have some sympathy for the poor UPS employee who has to try to interpret the law on top of his or her job.  Second, politely ask to speak to a manager or ask them to call the UPS Customer Service Number, 1-800-742-5877 or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, Firearms Programs Division, at (202) 927-7770. Finally, we at CRUFFLER.COM have prepared a letter that you can download (Microsoft Word Format) by clicking here.  The letter reads as follows:

Ima Gonnacruffle
792 Armory Street
Samckdabinnamiddlea, State  99999
(380) 762-3006
(Always include as much contact information in the message header as possible.  The idea here is to help the already overworked BATF folks do their job!)

(Faxing starts the ball rolling immediately!  Following up by mail makes sure they take notice.)
United States Department of the Treasury
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms
650 Massachusetts Avenue
Room No. 6450
Washington, D.C.  20226

Attn:  Office of Firearms Technology

Re:  Addition to the Curios or Relics List-Request for Ruling
(A subject line gives the secretary who opens the mail a heads up on who to hand it off to without having to read it through and waste time.)

Dear Sir or Madam:

Please consider this a formal request to add the Bulgarian military Makarov pistol to the Curios or Relics List.  As such, I am submitting this request for such a ruling.

(Dividing the letter into clear sections helps them make sense of it)
The Curios or Relics list currently includes two Makarov pistol variants:  Those produced for the East German and former Soviet militaries.  This is consistent with the legislative intent of the Curio or Relic List as these firearms “derive a substantial part of their monetary value because of their association with some historical figure, period, or event.” to wit: the Cold War and the former Communist bloc in Eastern Europe.

The same is true for Makarov pistols manufactured for the former communist regime in Bulgaria.  The Bulgarian military guns bear the markings of the “people’s factory” where they were produced, and are as much a relic of an important era in history (the Cold War and the Communist bloc) as the East German or Soviet guns.
(Hit them with a succinct explanation of your rationale right up front)

Physical Description
The Bulgarian military Makarov pistol is identical in construction, configuration, specification and operation to the Soviet and East German Makarov pistols currently included in the Curios and Relics List.  The pistol is blowback operated, double action (self cocking), and fed by an eight round, single column magazine.  Sights are a fixed blade front and a drift-adjustable-for windage u-notch rear.  A schematic diagram is provided below for reference.  Should additional imagery of the firearm be required, digital photos of a typical example of a Bulgarian military Makarov can be sent on demand via electronic mail:
The schematic to the left describes a typical Makarov pistol of the type used by the Soviet, East German, and Bulgarian military and state security forces during the period of communist domination in Eastern Europe (1945 – 1989).  Each of these countries produced their Makarov pistols indigenously.
(Normally a greater number of more detailed photos would be attached, but since there are already two Makarov pistols on the C&R List, this was dispensed with in this case)

Bulgarian military Makarov pistols are readily distinguishable from the less well made and finished commercial counterparts by their relative lack of markings other than the serial number (found on the left side of both slide and frame), and the “People’s Factory” (place of manufacture) stamping.  An image of the  “People’s Factory” number stamping is provided for reference:
This stamping (without the word “Bulgaria”) will only be found on military and paramilitary guns manufactured prior to the fall of the communist regime in Bulgaria.  It is unlikely that guns so marked will ever be produced again.
(Pictures of the unique markings are key!!)

Finish is a deep, well polished blue.

Curio or Relic Classification
The Bulgarian military Makarov merits classification as a relic under the provisions of 27 CFR § 178.11(c), which reads in pertinent part:

              Firearms which are of special interest to collectors by reason of some quality
                 other than is associated with firearms intended for sporting use or as offensive
                 or defensive weapons. To be recognized as curios or relics, firearms must fall
                 within one of the following categories:

                 (c) Any other firearms which derive a substantial part of their monetary value
                 from the fact that they are novel, rare, bizarre, or because of their association
                 with some historical figure, period, or event. Proof of qualification of a
                 particular firearm under this category may be established by evidence of
                 present value and evidence that like firearms are not available except as
                 collector's items, or that the value of like firearms available in ordinary
                 commercial channels is substantially less.

This rule is especially relevant to these particular pistols for the following reasons:

1) The pistols are intimately associated with an important historical period (the Cold War) and derive much of their value from that association, much as a German World War Two pistols derive their value from an association with that period.

2) While similar firearms are available, they are commercial replicas of the military Makarov pistols and have neither the historical cachet nor the workmanship of these guns.  Furthermore the commercial replicas will continue to be produced while the military guns for the communist regime will never be made again. Consequently, the retail collector value of these military guns currently hovers around the $200 - $250  mark while the commercial guns can be had for $130 - $150.

3) These pistols are comparable to the current crop of Romanian SKS rifles that are classified as Curios or Relics, while the newly produced Chinese SKS rifles are not.

(Help the BATF folks out as much as possible!  Do as much of the research, and quote as many statutes and regulations as you can!  This will speed things up and place your request in a more favorable light!)

Please let me know if there is additional information that I may submit on this issue that would be of assistance to you.  I am available at your convenience for consultation on this matter.  With kindest regards,  I remain

                                             Very truly yours,

                                             Ima Gonnacruffle

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