Shopify Inc., the Canadian provider of online stores for more than 600,000 businesses, banned the sale of some semi-automatic firearms and 3D-printed guns.
Semi-automatic guns that can take magazines that hold more than 10 bullets, attachments that make guns fire faster — like bump stocks — and silencers or flash suppressors are all considered “restricted items,” according to the company’s rules, which were updated Monday night. The popular and controversial AR-15, as well as other “assault-type weapons,” would fall into this category.
The move is a new indication of how Shopify, whose stock has rocketed more than 700 percent since its 2015 initial public offering, is grappling with the responsibility that comes with being the internet’s dominant platform for small merchants looking to sell online. By banning weapons that are otherwise legal to buy, the company is pushing into one of the biggest political and cultural fights in the U.S.
“Solely deferring to the law, in this age of political gridlock, is too idealistic and functionally unworkable on the fast-moving internet,” Chief Executive Officer Tobi Lutke said in a blog post. “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.”
Last year, activists pressured the company to stop serving conservative news site Breitbart’s online store. At the time, Lutke said commerce was part of free speech and Shopify wouldn’t kick Breitbart off. Products that specifically promote violence against people based on their ethnicity, religion or gender are banned.
“This decision will have significant ramifications to our business and should concern every online retailer and Second Amendment supporter,” Cole Leleux, general manager of Spike’s Tactical, a Florida-based retailer that sells guns and gun modification kits, said in an e-mailed statement.
A Shopify spokesperson said only a “small” number of stores are affected by the change. The company’s U.S.-traded shares were down 2 percent to $141.72 at 10:02 a.m. in New York.