Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence sent letters to DreamHost and Shopify over the weekend, asking the hosting service providers to disable the GhostGunner.net and GhostGuns.com websites. The request comes in the wake of news that the mass murder in Tehama County, Calif., was carried out by an individual prohibited from owning guns with weapons he made from parts ordered online.
Giffords Law Center argues that because the guns sold on the two sites are illegal in some states, the businesses aid and abet violations of state laws by their customers, and therefore they can be shut them down for violating the service providers’ Acceptable Use Policies and Terms of Service.
Weapons made without serial numbers — which are generally required by U.S. federal law — are known as “ghost guns,” according to the announcement. Kits and parts sold by the websites can be assembled into semi-automatic handguns and assault weapons using 3-D printing and milling technology in a home workshop.
“The recent mass shooting in Northern California underscored how dangerous it is when people legally prohibited from owning guns can go online and buy do-it-yourself assault weapon kits from unaccountable companies with no background checks, and no questions asked,” Adam Skaggs, Chief Counsel at Giffords Law Center said in a statement. “But companies like Ghost Gunner and Ghost Guns are profiting from doing just that. The Internet Service Providers hosting their websites are contractually entitled to shut these dangerous websites down, and they can, and should, do so.”
GhostGunner.net operator told the Associated Press that the products sold on the website are legal and in compliance with federal firearms regulations. He also said that precautions are taken to prevent their misuse, though the site does not perform legal firearms background checks.
“This is an attempt to apply pressure to deplatform a legal, American business selling legal products to law-abiding customers,” said Wilson.
UPS and FedEx stopped shipping “ghost guns” in 2015, citing regulatory uncertainty and their right to refuse service for several reasons.
GhostGuns.com, DreamHost, and Shopify did not immediately respond to Associated Press emailed requests for comment.
Both DreamHost and Shopify have faced controversy in the past. DreamHost was ordered by the District of Columbia Superior Court to hand subscriber data for a website it hosts to the Justice Department in October, after gaining some limitations to the data request.
Shopify defended its decision to continue hosting the online store for Brietbart in February, with CEO Tobias Lütke saying, “[i]nstead of imposing our own morality on the platform, we defer to the law. All products must be legal in the jurisdiction of the business.”
Separately, Lütke called short-seller Andrew Left of Citron Research a “troll” last month after a Citron report called Shopify a “get-rich-quick scheme” and alleged it uses illegal marketing tactics.