FedEx Refuses to Ship Defense Distributed’s ‘Ghost Gunner’ CNC Machines


FedEx is a common carrier. They ship just about everything from prescription medications to firearms and silencers. In fact, I’ve used them before to send guns across state lines, and all they wanted to know was whether the gun was unloaded — no further questions asked. But when Cody Wilson of Defense Distributed fame wanted to use FedEx to ship his cheap his CNC machines, they refused. Why? Because — gasp! — they might be used to make guns . . .

Wilson issued a press release about the situation, saying in part:

In February, I began pursuing business-to-consumer fulfillment rates from Federal Express to ship my product because I was a member of their FedEx Advantage/NRA Business Alliance program. I understood that the company held itself out as catering to the firearms industry with special rates.

Two weeks ago FedEx, through my account executive, began demurring on the rates and expressing uncertainty as to the legal status of my product. I assured them there was no controversy and showed them legal memos from my GCA firm in DC and other memos and facts confirming that the product and its related activity are not regulated or restricted by the ATF or federal law.

Now FedEx has told me that they will NOT ship my product at all, and though they will not give me a reason in writing, they have told that it is because my machine allows an individual to make a gun.

What’s curious about the FedEx stance is that they seem perfectly comfortable shipping the genuine article — firearms, parts and ammunition — all over the U.S. without checking any paperwork whatsoever. Not to mention CNC machines, lathes and drill presses.

When asked for a rationale, a FedEx spokesnoid managed to get this out without drooling all over his notes:

“We are uncertain at this time whether this device is a regulated commodity by local, state or federal governments. As such, to ensure we comply with the applicable law and regulations, FedEx declined to ship this device until we know more about how it will be regulated.”

As advises,

…(B)uying, selling, or using the Ghost Gunner isn’t illegal, nor is owning an AR-15 without a serial number, says Adam Winkler, a law professor at UCLA and the author of Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America. “This is not that problematic,” he says. “Federal law does not prohibit individuals from making their own firearms at home, and that includes AR-15s.”

So is FedEx just clutching its pearls and leaning on its fainting couch over the machine’s name…Wilson’s thinly-veiled jab at California’s anencephalic state senator Kevin de Leon’s colorful moniker for firearms that really scare him? Enquiring minds want to know.


  1. avatar Dustin says:

    Guess who I don’t ship my products with? I ended that sentence with a preposition.

    1. avatar Danny Griffin says:

      I ended that sentence with a preposition.

      Nothing wrong with that. This is English, not Latin.

    2. avatar Grindstone says:

      Some regional dialects do the same.

    3. avatar borg says:

      Why does defense distributed not ship UPS or USPS? I even heard that FEDEX is an advertising supporter of Al Sharpton on MSNBC. I heard that Al Sharpton is inciting hatred against cops.

      1. avatar CHS says:

        It’s in the article. He was attempting to go through their “FedEx Advantage/NRA Business Alliance program”.

        Apparently one end of the FedEx NRA business alliance isn’t holding up their end of the bargain.

    4. avatar Arc says:

      Likewise, I sell various things on Ebay from time to time, more so next year when I get a side business in full force. Guess who I’m refusing to use? Yep, anti-gun fedex.

  2. avatar Irish1776 says:

    I would lawyer up. This sounds like B.S. for them to speculate upon what it might be used for. Otherwise, I would just setup another business front and ship them in a less obvious manner.

    1. avatar sacorey says:

      And file suit on what grounds? That they freely choose not to do business that involves shipping these machines?

      If a private entity chooses not to do business or provide service, that is a function of the free market,

      Total non story, Wilson is also less than amusing as he clearly has only made his name by promoting controversy without anything truly innovative.

      1. avatar Chip Bennett says:

        And file suit on what grounds?

        Tortuous interference, perhaps?

        1. avatar Mark N. says:

          Although getting Fed Ex to ship might be tortuous, I think you mean “tortious” interference.

        2. avatar Chip Bennett says:

          Yeah, that’s the one… tortuous, tortious, tortoise…

      2. avatar Tommycat says:

        They could be in violation of the contract they are a party to with Defense Distributed. At this time a CNC machine is not a prohibited item. In fact it’s not even a controlled item like a silencer or firearm. It’s like saying that they refuse to ship a drill press, because someone can use it to drill out an 80% lower…

        1. avatar sacorey says:

          Given the context of the article, I’m going to say that there is no breach of contract as it seems the contract to ship these items is not yet formed.

        2. avatar UpChuck.Liberals says:

          OMG you mean that some person could add a 4″ cross slide and machine a 80% on a drill press. Who’d have thunked it possible. BTW the right tooling costs about $110, plus a digital caliper from Harbor Freight.

        3. avatar styrgwillidar says:

          Well, you can finish an 80% lower with a Rigid hand-held router with a 1/4″ end mill, and a hand-held power drill. Of course you have to buy the right jig (ARs Unlimited in San Diego for example). Their website even has a nice video of how to do it- bottom right on the page-

          So, FED-Ex, you gonna stop shipping hand-held power tools as well?

        4. avatar borg says:

          Restraint of trade.

      3. “If a private entity chooses not to do business or provide service, that is a function of the free market,”

        Unless it’s a florist or baker who doesn’t want to provide services for gay couples. THEN the courts and the gubmint needs to get involved. Definitely….

        1. avatar sacorey says:

          Unless there is an argument to be made that FedEx is discriminating on the basis of a protected class like race, religion, sex, age, or sexual orientation, there is no grounds for suit, simply proven as FedEx does other business with this vendor

      4. avatar hobbez says:

        Tell that to that lady who owns that flower shop in Washington, or the photographer in New Mexico, or the cake shop in Seattle. The days of being able to choose who you do business with are over…

        1. avatar Grindstone says:

          Kind of ended in the 1960s when private businesses were no longer allowed to ban black people from their stores…

          Not like there’s a difference between what a person is and an object.

      5. avatar Irish1776 says:

        What would happen if FedGov quietly provided incentive for all of the major carriers to refuse to ship firearm, ammo, or related items. It’s a slippery slope…

        1. avatar Danny Griffin says:

          Both a flower shop and a bakery were sued! Neither is buckling under.

      6. avatar Paul says:

        What about a bakery refusing to bake a cake for a gay couple’s wedding.

        1. avatar JohnF says:

          The problem was the bakery couldn’t make icing in the flavor they wanted…

      7. avatar Louis says:

        Then explain why the LGBT terrorists forced a bakery to close because it didn’t want to bake a cake for a homosexual marriage reception? Other examples listed here, and they go on from 2013 to 2015. Sounds like a discrimination case to me. Forget about the religious issue, I don’t that applies here.

      8. avatar Vince says:

        FedEX is not a private company, it is a business with a business license open to the public, a common carrier no less, who by definition offers their services to the common public. By definition if a business has a business license and is open to the public they can not discriminate who they provide services to and must operate their business by the rules and guidelines set by the governing/regulating authority by which they operate. A truly private business would not have a business license and would not be open to the public. A truly private business could refuse to service or product to anyone they choose for whatever reason.

        A discrimination suit could be valid in this case.

      9. avatar JBR says:

        So, by this rationale, nobody has to bake a gay wedding cake. The left can’t have it both ways.

      10. avatar Arc says:

        Common carriers do not get to pick and choose what they transmit or ship. If FedEx wants to handle mail, they need to be held to the same laws and standards as the USPS. I would like to see them have to require a warrant to open mail as well but thats a pipe dream.

    2. avatar Charles5 says:

      I agree with @sacorey. So often POTG forget about other rights that should not be infringed.

    3. avatar mike reed says:

      Just claim that FedEx won’t do business with you because you’re gay. FedEx says you’re not gay.. tell them to prove it. Then claim discrimination and call them homophobic.. they’ll be begging to ship your stuff!

      1. avatar BlueBronco says:

        This sounds like some B. Todd Jones/Eric with-Holder b.s.

      2. avatar Lime Green Medic says:

        That’s twisted, but effective.

        I love it.

  3. avatar Sixpack70 says:

    Then they should have not shipped me that wheeler AR 15 armorer’s kit I got last year. I have assembled a few AR-15s with it. Are they going to also ban hand tools, riveters and presses? We wouldn’t want someone to build an AK in their garage! OMG!

    1. avatar Pieslapper says:

      They better stop with the evil black pipe and nails while they’re at it.

  4. avatar David Hackney says:

    So fedex knows what is in every package they ship? I wasn’t aware of that.

  5. avatar Alex Waits says:

    Sure, FedEx can ship or not ship whatever they want, I wont use them to ship anything else. And request my purchases be sent by UPS.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      I still haven’t seen any explanation of how they know what’s being shipped. Is this part of seeking special rates or something? Because if it is, just forget that, carry the parcel down and ship it normally. They have never asked me what was in a package I was shipping.

  6. avatar Paul53 says:

    Waiting for FedEx & UPS to merge. Then we can call them “Fedup.”

    1. avatar Louis says:

      Good one

  7. avatar Ralph says:

    Federal authorities — not Fedex — have their fingerprints all over this. Welcome to Operation Choke Point, Part Two.

    1. Operation what?
      Never heard of it.
      If it was a thing, TTAG would definitely write about it. Definitely….

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        It’s a thing. Use your google-fu if you want to know more.

        1. avatar DRGO says:

          I was being sarcastical. …..

    2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Think about it. Some government goon (perhaps an agent from the Internal Revenue Service) shows up in person and quietly — and verbally so there is no actual record — informs FedEx that Big Brother is going to embark upon a comprehensive corporate audit of FedEx as well as comprehensive personal audits of all of the FedEx executives and Board members … for the next 20 years. Or, FedEx can refuse to ship products from Defense Distributed and the audit cloud hanging over the head of FedEx, their executives, and Board goes away.

      At that point, handling the intrusive audits will cost FedEx way more than any profit margin they would make from shipping Defense Distributed’s packages.

      This is the weaponization of government for carrying out personal and/or unconstitutional agendas.

    3. avatar neiowa says:

      This would be Phase line Troika at a minimum – you are forgetting the lead limitation exercise.

  8. avatar Tom W. says:

    I’d bet this came from our buddy at the DOJ, AG Eric Holder, Operation Chokepoint ring a bell?
    Either way, the big brown truck distribution centers, not the little strip mall stores will ship it. Certified, signature required, etc,… Until Eric gets to them too.
    By any means necessary, like the M855/SS109 kerfuffle BS, things like this are only going to increase in frequency until the regime is gone.

  9. avatar Anonymous says:

    Does fedex still ship machining tools? Milling bits? What really is the difference?

    1. avatar Arc says:

      ‘but guns’ is the difference.

  10. avatar Jim R says:

    What’s wrong with the USPS? They’re cheaper than UPS or FedEx.

    1. avatar EmptyJay says:

      USPS just sucks. Terrible customer service. Good luck tracking anything.

      The private companies do it so much better. After all, they have to in order to stay in business.

      1. avatar Bryan says:

        I ship with usps a lot and have great results…cheaper pricing almost everytime, no cost satup day delivery, tracking get works fine.

        Most people don’tn ‘ know that the usps actually makes money…BUT, they end up in the red due to a federal mandate that they PRE-FUND the employee pension fund by 75 YEARS….. yes, you read that correct.

        There is speculation as to why this happened, many suspect 2 reasons because us mail has a higher level of privacy protection by law AND FedEx and UPS would love to knock out a huge competitor….wonder what their campaign contributions look like.

        1. avatar Wood says:

          Gotta love shipping cast lead SWCs via flat rate!

        2. avatar bontai Joe says:

          I use USPS (the post office) pretty much exclusively. I get great service, timely delivery, insurance, tracking, flat rate boxes, and much more. They are almost always cheaper and will handle anything up to 70 lb before it gets complicated.

  11. avatar Steve says:

    I’ve always hated FedEx, have always refused to ship with them, and this just adds on to it.

    1. avatar Josh says:

      Me too. I’ve lost count of how many times FedEx has delayed my packages, while UPS has always been exactly on time. I think FedEx may use some sort of franchising structure, while UPS is centrally owned and managed; might explain why FedEx shipments are usually delivered by a beat-up van with no logo on it three days late. I try my best to avoid them, but unfortunately some of my favorite online stores exclusively use them.

      1. avatar neiowa says:

        Correct. Delivery trucks are owned by individual contractors.

      2. avatar wade says:

        Fed-ex ground are subcontractors. Fed-ex express is the parent company.

      3. avatar Arc says:

        Fedex has this habit of accepting PO box mail then refusing to deliver it because they “can’t”. What the hell is parcel select for then or whatever the service is called? Why would you even accept someone else mail to begin with which is probably a felony, when you know you can’t deliver it?

        Bad company all around. I use the post office exclusively.

  12. avatar everything is scary says:

    Does this mean that FedEx will stop shipping dentures because I can gnaw/mill a pop tart into the shape of a gun?

  13. avatar Grindstone says:

    FedEx is over-priced anyway. Better service with UPS.

    1. avatar Mr Pierogie says:

      Depends where and what you ship. As far as I know, per their policy, UPS stores won’t accept firearms or related items for shipment (not from non-FFLs anyway), you have to go to a central hub, which usually has weird operating hours. Fedex stores are a breeze compared to that. You don’t have to be a dealer, but the package has to be addressed to a FFL. You’re supposed to inform them you’re shipping a firearm. Sometimes they ask and sometimes they don’t. Guns are supposed to be shipped overnight only. I was returning a rifle once and had a prepaid label, which was 2nd-day I think, not overnight. The clerk didn’t care what was inside the long box, and it shipped just fine. I’m not sure what their policy is regarding firearm related items, if you can call a CNC machine that. But I suppose they can refuse to ship anything they want.

      1. avatar LarryinTX says:

        UPS maintains a list of all FFLs nationwide to refer to? At every facility? Is that what you’re telling me? I find that fantastic, especially since the list would change daily. If not, how can they require the addressee to be an FFL? How much does the maintenance of that list COST?

        1. avatar Mr Pierogie says:

          Don’t you mean Fedex? Here’s their 2015 terms of service regarding firearms:

          FedEx Express will transport and deliver firearms as defined by the United States Gun Control Act of 1968, between areas served in the U.S., but only between:

          Licensed importers; licensed manufacturers; licensed dealers; licensed collectors; law enforcement agencies of the U.S. or any department or agency thereof; and law enforcement agencies of any state or any department, agency or political subdivisions thereof; or

          Where not prohibited by local, state and federal law, from individuals to licensed importers, licensed manufacturers or licensed dealers (and return of same).

          So all they have to do is ask for a copy of the recipient’s FFL to verify where the shipment is going. Seems simple to me. No need for them to maintain any databases. I’m not even sure if they had ever asked for it, I just offered it anyway just to make them happy.

        2. avatar Mr Pierogie says:

          I never shipped with UPS. I tried but when I was told that the UPS stores (in NJ at least) won’t even touch a firearm or related item, I never bothered taking it any further. They said I’d have to go to their central location and that made Fedex much more convenient. So I’m not sure what their policy is if you go through the trouble of shipping from a hub.

  14. avatar GuyFromV says:

    Damn, I just submitted this exact story just as I saw this.

  15. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    Soooo….what is the difference between the Ghost Gunner CNC and other normally named desktop CNC mills with packaged CAD/CAM software. This is not rocket science people!

    1. avatar Newshawk says:

      I was wondering if someone would ask the obvious question! If FedEx is refusing to ship the Distributed Defense 3D printer but ships other 3D printers then I would say there’s a big problem. Any suitable 3D printer can manufacture parts for a gun. To refuse one particular model because of its name or manufacturer/distributor is discriminatory.

  16. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    Rename the Ghost Gunner equipment to Happy Bunny!

  17. avatar Sian says:

    He should have named it ‘Liberty Mill’ or ‘Freedom Box’.

  18. avatar jwtaylor says:

    You know what, I have a little time off work. If you are on Texas and buy the Ghost Gunner CNC, I will work with you and Defense Distributed and deliver it to your house for free. Zero shipping charges. I’ll pay the gas and whatever. I’ve got a truck, buy a few. Offer ends when I get tired of it. JWT

  19. avatar Ragnarredbeard says:

    So exactly how does Fedex know what is in the box? Do they pack it for him?

    (just label it “machine parts” and no one will know any different)

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      I’m thinking that the name “Defense Distributed” and the company’s NRA’s Business Alliance membership might have tipped them off.

      1. avatar Publius says:

        Set up a new office / warehouse, put up a sign that says something else. BOOM, problem solved.

    2. avatar sacorey says:

      Well when a company speculates that they’ll be shipping a bunch of packages that are packed on pallets and then unpacked and distributed, they work out a contract to secure a fixed rate. As part of those contract dealings, the people doing the distribution tend to ask, “what’s in the box”

  20. avatar David says:

    Screw FedEx. Not shipping ammo without a hazardous material handling certificate? Same bull.

    1. avatar sacorey says:

      You mean abiding by federal law? How dare they mark containers containing hazardous lead and certify its packaging and handling

  21. avatar caffeinated says:

    This has .gov written all over it. Just remember that FedEx has pretty lucrative government approval to ship certain classified information. It would be a shame if they lost that…ahem…

  22. avatar Quagmire says:

    Soooo….will FedEx refuse to ship the, “Sig-brace” because someone might, “Shoulder” it?

  23. avatar g says:

    I have a feeling the government has secretly put pressure on FedEx to NOT ship the machine. You think the government doesn’t already have an eye on Defense Distributed and Cody Wilson? Along with folks who ow guns?

    Hell, these days, I bet just READING BOOKS is enough to get you on a NSA watch list for being dangerous.

    1. It’s not that complicated. If you tell a local fedex hub you’re shipping a rifle barrel or upper they’ll interrogate you and perhaps say they can’t because they’re ignorant of their own policies and law. If you simply tell them you’re shipping “machine parts” they don’t care and will accept the package.

  24. avatar Evan in Dallas says:

    This has nothing to do with clutching pearls and everything to do with not wanting to end up on the wrong side of the very vindictive federal government. Whether it’s illegal or not, regulatory agencies tend to change their minds and that can be expensive for a large company, and put employees at risk of losing their jobs as a result.

  25. avatar Former Water Walker says:

    Wait whut? Methinks somebody leaned on “em. BTW my wife has an internet company and has never had a problem with USPS after shipping many hundreds of packages. Takes a day or two longer but so what…

  26. There’s no reason to tell FedEx or any other common carrier that level of detail. You only have to disclose firearms to them by law, not machine equipment.

    Get a doing business as “machines distributed”

    FedEx: what are you shipping?
    Machines Distributed: home CNC milling machines

    And that would be the end of that.

  27. avatar SteveO says:

    I think I’m going to try to purchase a few aircraft crash axes from some retailer and have them sent to me via FedEx. Wonder if they will arrive.

  28. avatar jeff says:

    If a gay couple (or the government on their behalf) can sue a business for declining to render services for their ‘gay wedding’, this certainly warrants a law suit for refusing to ship a legal product. We are told that businesses have no rights to deny a customer based on differing beliefs, so let’s apply the law equally, shall we? (Even though I disagree with forcing a business to provide services for ‘gay anything’ if that is their choice)

    1. avatar borg says:

      Defense Distributed could claim that they worship machines and technology including but not limited to firearm machining devices and firearms and they could further claim that FEDEX is discriminating on the basis of their religion.

  29. avatar Chris says:

    UPS refuses to ship the Ghost Gunner now too.

    “A UPS spokesperson wrote in a statement that the company will only ship guns and gun parts between holders of a federal firearms license. In a follow-up statement, it confirmed that it won’t ship the Ghost Gunner either. “UPS is continuing to evaluate such concerns with regard to the transportation of milling machines used to produce operable firearms but, at this point in time, will not accept such devices for transportation,” writes spokesperson Dan Mackin.”

  30. avatar Junior Samples says:

    Are these things still for sale?

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