Shopify has reversed course on their commitment to free speech, effectively implementing a commercial de-platforming of gun companies on their site. Landing a gut-punch to free speech and the Second Amendment, the massive Canada-based commerce platform serving some 600,000-plus merchants abruptly shifted policy to include bans on dozens of guns and gun-related products, including DIY kits and gun blueprints.
Shopify revised their Acceptable Use Policy on Monday to include a sales embargo on certain semi-automatic firearms, unfinished lower receivers, unserialized firearms, magazines capable of accepting more than 10 rounds, and many more products (view the list, here).
In a press release to The Daily Wire, Florida-based gun manufacturer Spike's Tactical said "the new rules will essentially shut down the sale of guns, gun parts and accessories over the internet by retailers who use Shopify."
"This decision will have significant ramifications to our business and should concern every online retailer and Second Amendment supporter," warned Spike’s Tactical GM Cole Leleux.
The company conducts millions of dollars in sales via the platform annually. "We have invested more than $100,000 in the development of our Shopify store, which will disappear once these policies go into effect," Leleux said.
Texas-based Rare Breed Firearms was also hit by Shopify's new dubious policy shift. "We have spent the last three years developing the Rare Breed brand and more than $40,000 developing our Shopify site," said company president Lawrence DeMonico.
Ironically, Shopify founder and CEO Tobias Lütke has long-praised his company's commitment to free speech, even if such speech was unpopular and controversial. "We don’t like Breitbart, but products are speech and we are pro free speech. This means protecting the right of organizations to use our platform even if they are unpopular or if we disagree with their premise, as long as they are within the law," wrote Lütke in a Medium post published in 2017.
The post was conspicuously deleted (archived here) after Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson publicly called out Lütke for the position shift.
"Get a load of this," wrote Wilson via Twitter, linking to Lütke's Medium post on free speech. "I’m going to depose you on camera and you can talk about your b****made blog posts," he wrote in another tweet, tagging Lütke.
Lütke later offered an "updated" position on free speech in a new post on Monday.
Wilson, to his knowledge, was the first to have his business shut out by Shopify and seemingly sparked the new policy. Without warning or notice, Wilson's Ghost Gunner kits, CNC milling machines used for DIY guns, were removed from Shopify on Friday at midnight.
"My main product doesn't violate their AUP but they left me no option for remedy," Wilson told The Daily Wire.
Wilson proudly took credit for "exposing" Lütke as lacking principle. "I'm proud to have broken him and demonstrated his flimsiness," he said. "Another progressive scalp in my total Internet war."
"The only reason you need to support free speech is when the speech is dangerous or controversial. A big round of applause for Tobi still standing strong for useless and uncontroversial speech. A real hero," mocked Wilson.
"I've robbed these numale progressives of a core element of their fictional identities," he continued. "Is Tobi equipped to realize he's nothing now? There's no principle there? He's just a bald child that runs a corporate machine for his shareholder and investor overlords?"
The 30-year-old noted that the targeting oddly comes after he effectively won his lawsuit against the State Department in July concerning the publishing of gun code. Before State "allowed" Wilson to post his files, Shopify hosted his goods; now that the DOJ has signed off on such publishing, he's been excommunicated.
"So they have a point of view," Wilson said of Shopify. "They're happy to deign to us when they know they're our superiors, but when we upset the world order it's a mad dash for the ramparts."
As you might imagine, the Shopify gun crackdown happened quietly and those affected have complained that they have been unable to receive any answers, specifically regarding timeline. Gun businesses, some of which have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into their Shopify stores, were informed post-amended rules that they might have been "impacted by this change."
Gun companies do not intend to take the targeted de-platforming without a fight.
"I will sue and I invite others to join me as a class," said Wilson.
Likewise, Rare Breed and Spike's Tactical intend to do the same.
"Depending on how this policy is rolled out, this is a move that could put companies like ours out of business, and we will undoubtedly be looking to pursue legal options," Rare Breed's DeMonico said.
In its press release, Spike's Tactical offered to partner with other companies to pursue legal action: "Any other gun manufacturers or retailers who are also experiencing issues related to this new policy are encouraged to contact Spike’s Tactical, as they are looking at legal options to potentially file a class action lawsuit."
In the interim, Wilson said Magento, a company similar to Shopify, has reached out to him about hosting his products. "They're pro-shooting sports and taking all new refugees," he said.
The Daily Wire reached out to Magento but did not receive comment in time for publication.