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Uncommon Carrier

28 May 2005

Montrose, CO

I wheeled into Gunnison yesterday around noon, minus angina, and had lunch with my friend Dick. Afterward we retired, if you'll pardon the expression, to his garage to take care of my gun problem.

He had everything. Boxes galore. Newspaper for packing. And, most important of all - duct tape. I broke down the shotgun and wrapped it and both the pistols in bubble wrap. We cut up an old string trimmer box and padded everything with wadded newspaper. Then we proceeded to make a real duct tape delight out of the outside of that thing. Damn near waterproof before we were through. Made a mostly gray package about 2 1/2 feet long and maybe a foot square.


Dick had downloaded the relevant page from the ATF website:

I quote:

(B10) May a nonlicensee ship firearms interstate for his or her use in hunting or other lawful activity?

Yes. A person may ship a firearm to himself or herself in care of another person in the state where he or she intends to hunt or engage in any other lawful activity. The package should be addressed to the owner.

And further down:

(B9) May a nonlicensee ship a firearm by carrier?

A nonlicensee may ship a firearm by carrier to a resident of his or her own state or to a licensee in any state. A common or contract carrier must be used to ship a handgun. In addition, Federal law requires that the carrier be notified that the shipment contains a firearm...

Fine. Great. I can ship these things to myself in care of my brother back in Georgetown. And in this way, the great and sovereign state of Canada need not fear armed insurrection by a disgruntled former fireman.

More to the point, said fireman can quit thinking about the whole subject, and proceed to enjoy this trip in the manner to which he would like to become accustomed.


"A common or contract carrier..." Sounds like UPS to me. I've been fond of those big brown trucks ever since somebody suggested they would make a great RV conversion van. You could park them in the middle of any street in America and get away with it. For a while.

Dick had already phoned, and found out the main UPS office opened at 4:30. So we killed a little time with a tour of the prettier parts of Gunnison, and I picked up a 6 pack of Longmont beer. We talked about the importance of prescience in real estate. A lot of this land could have been had cheap a few decades ago.

But then, I could be had pretty cheap back then, too.

The hour arrived. We scooted on down to UPS.

"What's in it?", Mary asked.

"A shotgun, broken down."

"Are you a licensed dealer?"

"No. I'm shipping it to myself."

"We can't do that."

"But, but, but..." I showed her the printout of the ATF page. She read it. Handed it back.

"Doesn't matter. It's against our policy. Has been for a long time."

Dang. Apparently it is legal to do this. But finding someone who WANTS to do it is an entirely different matter. I groused about it all the way back to Dick's place.

"Hell, I ought to just tell 'em it's a tent and be done with this."

Dick considered it. "If there was some way to make them think that without having to tell a bald faced lie..."

"If it comes to that, I'm not above telling a bald faced lie to someone who's made it their business to diddle with me. It's not breaking the law. It's just breaking their little arbitrary company rule. Why should I care about that? They make these things up for their convenience. What about my convenience?"

Blah, blah, blah. All that was just annoyance talking. I suppose UPS has a right to ship what they want - or not. Besides, I was beginning to remember exactly what the ATF page said about disclosure.

Crap. Foiled again.

I don't need a common carrier. I need an uncommon carrier. I tried Fedex today in Montrose, but they were closed. These places keep odd hours. Besides that, it's Memorial Day weekend.

What's left? I could find pay storage near the border. One of those tin sheds in some little town, with a padlock on it. And a six month lease. Someone suggested a pawn shop, but naah, I don't trust those sleazebags.

Why can't this be simpler?

Dick might keep it, but he vacates Gunnison for Mexico in November, and I may be through here later than that. I usually am. Besides, it sometimes gets down to the minus twenties in Gunnison around that time. If I got killed driving on ice to pick up my guns, maybe took out a busload of nuns, would those be firearms-related deaths?


I've gotten a few kind offers from people in Washington state. The guns are all packed up for storage. I suppose the best bet is to impose on my friends. Most of them are not known criminals.

And I don't intend to be one either.

But whoda thunk it would be this hard to obey the law?

the Uncommon Carrier

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