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eBay’s changes gun policy because of association with the Virginia Tech Massacre

July 31st, 2007 by Skip McGrath

eBay has tightened the restrictions on the sale of gun parts including the type purchased on eBay by Seung-Hui Cho

After the tragedy at Virginia Tech in April 2007, eBay’s name got dragged through the mud by the media because parts for the gun had been bought on eBay. As Griff said on eBay Radio today “this can never happen again.” eBay’s firearms policy has limited firearms sales since 1999. Now they are tightening the restrictions and banning any part that is required to fire a gun. This includes bullet tips, brass casings and shells, barrels, slides, cylinders, magazines, firing pins, and trigger assemblies.

This makes sense. Whenever eBay’s name is attached to something negative (or horrific in this case) it hurts both eBay and the sellers using the marketplace. I know, from listening to the eBay Radio call-ins today, that there are sellers who make their livelihood from selling parts of guns on eBay, whether they are current or antique. There was a lot of bad feeling about this new policy that effectively puts them out of business. But Griff would not budge. He said this was a decision they had to make and it was the right thing to do and it would not change.

The official announcement said, “After learning that some items purchased on eBay may have been used in the tragedy at Virginia Tech in April 2007, we felt that revisiting our policies was not only necessary, but the right thing to do. After much consideration, the Trust & Safety policy team – along with our executive leaders at eBay Inc. – have made the decision to further restrict more of these items than federal and state regulations require.

They simply don’t want to be associated with another tragedy such as occured at Virginia Tech. The new rules go into effect in August so if you have antiques that will soon be banned, now is the time to get them listed. The upshot of this will be that sellers of these items will go elsewhere. One caller on eBay Radio today said that he makes a lot more on eBay because of the exposure his items get which he can’t get on other sites. Once there are none of these items on eBay, buyers will quickly learn to turn to other auction sites that don’t have these restrictions. So in the end, I don’t think sellers will lose out quite as much as they currently anticipate.

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