Uber, Guns, and Civil Society

 

uber-logoEarlier this week, Uber Technologies issued a new policy regarding firearms:

We seek to ensure that everyone using the Uber digital platform—both driver-partners and riders—feels safe and comfortable using the service. During a ride arranged through the Uber platform, Uber and its affiliates therefore prohibit possessing firearms of any kind in a vehicle. Any rider or driver found to have violated this prohibition may lose access to the Uber platform.

First, the private sector is the right place for this debate; Uber is neither a monopoly nor a branch of the government. To the extent rights matter in this issue, the only relevant ones are Uber’s to set the rules of its service. This, emphatically, has nothing to do with the Second Amendment.

Moreover, it’s worth noting that the inside of an Uber car is — by the nature of the way they system works — one of the safer places you can be. Not only is every transaction logged, tracked, and date-stamped with the names and information of each participant, the simple fact that all transactions must be conducted electronically scares-off most petty criminals. One Uber driver I spoke with a few months back explained that he gave up cab driving was because a great deal of his clients were prostitutes and drug dealers who always used cash; if he’s had any since switching platforms, he’s unaware of it and doesn’t care.

All that said, the rule seems remarkably stupid on the merits. At the risk of preaching to a successful company, it seems foolish to tell a (presumably) large number of happy contractors and users that their hitherto harmless, responsible, and legal behavior is now verboten. Moreover, one of the many advantages of Uber is is sheer convenience, which is undermined by having to safely store a weapon — likely while not at home — if one wishes to abide by the rules. And just because the inside of the Uber is safe doesn’t mean the outside is; indeed, the last time Uber was in the news regarding firearms, it was when one of their drivers stopped a mass shooting by wounding the suspect.

But there’s a deeper problem with the rule: even by the (incredibly low) standards of carry bans, this is remarkably unenforceable. Uber is a software vendor, not a transportation provider; it’s called “Uber Technologies” for a reason. As the WSJ accurately describes the situation:

Uber’s move to ban guns could raise questions about how far the company can go in regulating the behavior of its drivers, whom it doesn’t employ, and in controlling the experience in their cars, which it doesn’t own.

This is, of course, not the first time in recent years that companies have issued new, more restrictive firearms policies. While I don’t like these things on principle, they’re not all created equally, and it’s a shame Uber didn’t follow the example Starbucks set last year. Rather than issue an unenforceable ban that would only breed contempt from those who either respected the rule or who ignored it, they issued a simple request that solved their immediate problem, while acknowledging the limits of their practical power, and affording some discretion to customers who weren’t causing any trouble.

One of the bedrocks of a civil society should be that “if you’re not causing a problem for me, I shouldn’t cause one for you.” The erosion of that principle — whether its in this matter, or in the case of religious bakers/florists/photographers — is one of the sadder aspects to our present society.

It’s sad to see Uber on the wrong side of this.

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  1. user_129539 Member
    user_129539
    @BrianClendinen

    Considering being a taxi driver is one of the most dangerous professions out there way more dangerous than a cop. I think this is another piece of evidence that is starting to give merit to the liberal argument you hear that  Uber really does not care about its contractors. Now are they any worse than your average corporation that relies heavily on contractors, probably not.

    This policy along with their no tip one, pretty much means I would not use Uber but one its competitors like Lyft. Considering the background checks and customer review requirements drivers are required to have, I would actually fell safer in some neighbors and not care in others if my driver was carrying.

    • #1
  2. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Brian Clendinen: This policy along with their no tip one, pretty much means I would not use Uber but one its competitors like Lyft.

    I’ve got some bad news for you: Lyft already bans firearms.

    • #2
  3. No Caesar Thatcher
    No Caesar
    @NoCaesar

    As an Uber user I will just ignore this strictum.

    More and more, my answer to the Left’s newest panty-twist is “I will not comply”.   Not at the barricades, but just ignoring them and — when the time is right — quietly making a point of it.

    • #3
  4. user_989419 Inactive
    user_989419
    @ProbableCause

    Two observations:

    1. It bothers me no end, that the cost of actually providing security (which Uber is not doing) is substantial, while the cost of issuing a feel-good, but ultimately dangerous gun ban, is almost zero.

    2. We appear to be reaching a second accommodation.  The first was that concealed carry became the new normal as opposed to open carry.  This makes the squeamish feel better because they can’t actually see the firearms.  The second accommodation is the posting of these bans, and the increasing willingness by concealed weapon carriers to ignore them.  You see the solidification of this tacit understanding in the occasional story in which someone who is not supposed to have a gun in a certain area, saves lives by shooting a mass murderer, followed by the refusal by the local DA to press charges against the hero.

    • #4
  5. user_357321 Inactive
    user_357321
    @Jordan

    Brian Clendinen:Considering being a taxi driver is one of the most dangerous professions out there way more dangerous than a cop. I think this is another piece of evidence that is starting to give merit to the liberal argument you hear that Uber really does not care about its contractors. Now are they any worse than your average corporation that relies heavily on contractors, probably not.

    This policy along with their no tip one, pretty much means I would not use Uber but one its competitors like Lyft. Considering the background checks and customer review requirements drivers are required to have, I would actually fell safer in some neighbors and not care in others if my driver was carrying.

    Your sentiments about Uber not caring about its contractors are correct.  They will replace them with automated cars when it becomes possible.

    I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, but it is the reality of the situation.  Uber isn’t interested in being a platform for ride sharing.  It’s interested in creating a world where no one owns a car (at least not one that they themselves would drive), and transportation is a service.

    • #5
  6. user_519396 Member
    user_519396
    @

    Uber wants to micro-manage its “driver-partners,” but just as strenuously argues that it doesn’t have “employees” per se for purposes of complying with labor and tax laws. Can’t have it both ways. While Uber, et al., are not government entities, they sure have been aggressive in lobbying for favors from government, such as the above exemptions and legislative relief from laws regulating traditional cabs and hire-car services. Next time Uber comes crying to a state legislature in a “shall issue” or “constitutional carry” state the legislature should keep that in mind. Just this year several bills sailed through the Virginia General Assembly–to Uber’s great benefit. I bet a lot of traditional cabbies carry in states where they’re allowed to, due to the legitimate fear of being robbed for the cash they carry.

    • #6
  7. Guruforhire Inactive
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    Paul Wilson:Uber wants to micro-manage its “driver-partners,” but just as strenuously argues that it doesn’t have “employees” per se for purposes of complying with labor and tax laws. Can’t have it both ways. While Uber, et al., are not government entities, they sure have been aggressive in lobbying for favors from government, such as the above exemptions and legislative relief from laws regulating traditions cabs and hire-car services. Next time Uber comes crying to a state legislature in a “shall issue” or “constitutional carry” state the legislature should keep that in mind. Just this year several bills sailed through the Virginia General Assembly–to Uber’s great benefit. I bet a lot of traditional cabbies carry in states where they’re allowed to, due to the legitimate fear of being robbed for the cash they carry.

    This a million times this.

    • #7
  8. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Paul Wilson:Uber wants to micro-manage its “driver-partners,” but just as strenuously argues that it doesn’t have “employees” per se for purposes of complying with labor and tax laws. Can’t have it both ways. While Uber, et al., are not government entities, they sure have been aggressive in lobbying for favors from government, such as the above exemptions and legislative relief from laws regulating traditional cabs and hire-car services. Next time Uber comes crying to a state legislature in a “shall issue” or “constitutional carry” state the legislature should keep that in mind. Just this year several bills sailed through the Virginia General Assembly–to Uber’s great benefit. I bet a lot of traditional cabbies carry in states where they’re allowed to, due to the legitimate fear of being robbed for the cash they carry.

    I’d get behind that.

    • #8
  9. user_519396 Member
    user_519396
    @

    Hat’s off to Uber for confirming–for the 10,000th time–that personal freedom and personal vehicle ownership continue to work hand in hand. It’s also unclear whether their prohibition applies to cased firearms being transported to a shop or gun range, or in luggage. It says “possession” after all–that’s pretty broad.

    • #9
  10. Herbert Woodbery Member
    Herbert Woodbery
    @Herbert

    Tom, don’t you think an incident or incidents precipitated the change?

    Btw. Just this past week uber to airport $29.75. Taxi from the airport $77. Same traffic level, I was astounded.

    • #10
  11. Mario the Gator Inactive
    Mario the Gator
    @Pelayo

    This sounds like nothing more than an unenforceable “CYA” policy that Uber’s attorney came up with.  If all Uber drivers abide by this policy, they might as well place a bullseye on their vehicles so criminals looking to commit armed robbery can hop in the back seat and help themselves.

    • #11
  12. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Pelayo: This sounds like nothing more than an unenforceable “CYA” policy that Uber’s attorney came up with.  If all Uber drivers abide by this policy, they might as well place a bullseye on their vehicles so criminals looking to commit armed robbery can hop in the back seat and help themselves.

    I think it’s both better and worse than that.

    In terms of safety, anyone hailing an Uber is going to leave a paper trail. That’s a huge disincentive to target uber drivers (who also have no need to carry cash).

    It’s worse than that in that the Starbucks policy would have served much better in terms of CYA, without the attenuating problems.

    • #12
  13. user_697797 Member
    user_697797
    @

    Nothing in this agreement is going to stop drivers or passengers from carrying concealed.  Loss of access to the Uber platform won’t be such a big deal if you have occasion to need your sidearm.

    • #13
  14. Spin Inactive
    Spin
    @Spin

    Bob Laing:Nothing in this agreement is going to stop drivers or passengers from carrying concealed. Loss of access to the Uber platform won’t be such a big deal if you have occasion to need your sidearm.

    This is a great point.  The thousands of times an Uber driver or passenger violates this every day will never be noticed.  But the one time it will be noticed is when an Uber driver or passenger defends himself or another from something, well, that guy will lose his access to Uber, but become a Fox News Contributor.

    • #14
  15. user_357321 Inactive
    user_357321
    @Jordan

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    Pelayo: This sounds like nothing more than an unenforceable “CYA” policy that Uber’s attorney came up with. If all Uber drivers abide by this policy, they might as well place a bullseye on their vehicles so criminals looking to commit armed robbery can hop in the back seat and help themselves.

    I think it’s both better and worse than that.

    In terms of safety, anyone hailing an Uber is going to leave a paper trail. That’s a huge disincentive to target uber drivers (who also have no need to carry cash).

    It’s worse than that in that the Starbucks policy would have served much better in terms of CYA, without the attenuating problems.

    Yeah but most criminals are idiots.  I wouldn’t count on a would be Uber robber to know that one, there’s no cash to steal, and two, there’s a record of almost everything the driver does.

    • #15
  16. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Bob Laing:Nothing in this agreement is going to stop drivers or passengers from carrying concealed.

    Correct, but that’s why it seems it would be so much better — if we’re going to go this way — to adopt a Starbucks-like request rather than a hard, unenforceable rule.

    • #16
  17. Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. Coolidge
    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr.
    @BartholomewXerxesOgilvieJr

    This new policy almost certainly makes Uber less safe. Uber has essentially advertised that its drivers and passengers are soft targets.

    Uber’s statement makes clear their priorities: they want their drivers and passengers to feel safe, not to be safe.

    • #17
  18. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    All some enterprising gun lover needs to do is create his own version of Uber, advertise it, and I will use it.  I was on the verge of downloading the Uber app when I read about that Uber driver who legally carried and stopped a crime (don’t remember the details), when this post showed up.

    OTOH, I’m willing to bet that many of these drivers (pizza delivery, Uber, etc.) carry weapons legally, and do so knowing they will lose their jobs if they ever have to defend themselves or others.

    Better than losing their lives . . .

    • #18
  19. captainpower Inactive
    captainpower
    @captainpower

    Probable Cause: 2. We appear to be reaching a second accommodation.  The first was that concealed carry became the new normal as opposed to open carry.  This makes the squeamish feel better because they can’t actually see the firearms.  The second accommodation is the posting of these bans, and the increasing willingness by concealed weapon carriers to ignore them.  You see the solidification of this tacit understanding in the occasional story in which someone who is not supposed to have a gun in a certain area, saves lives by shooting a mass murderer, followed by the refusal by the local DA to press charges against the hero.

    reminds me of Mark Bowden’s idea that torture should be illegal and we should hope and pray that brave souls arise that are willing to violate the law if necessary and then suffer the consequences.

    • #19
  20. Byron Horatio Inactive
    Byron Horatio
    @ByronHoratio

    I don’t comply with many rules and laws I find silly and onerous as it is. This one is even more ignorable because there is no force behind it.

    Unless you’re entering a police station or courthouse, you’re a sucker for following no gun signs.

    • #20
  21. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    No Caesar:As an Uber user I will just ignore this strictum.

    More and more, my answer to the Left’s newest panty-twist is “I will not comply”. Not at the barricades, but just ignoring them and — when the time is right — quietly making a point of it.

    Yup. It’s called “concealed carry” for a reason.  I’m not going to surrender my right to defend myself before and after getting a ride. If they want to ban me if they discover this, so be it.

    • #21
  22. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    Good thing this policy will prevent anymore of this happening

    An Uber driver with a concealed handgun prevented a mass shooting in Chicago

    A group of people had been walking in front of the driver around 11:50 p.m. in the 2900 block of North Milwaukee Avenue when Everardo Custodio, 22, began firing into the crowd, Quinn said.

    The driver pulled out a handgun and fired six shots at Custodio, hitting him several times, according to court records. Responding officers found Custodio lying on the ground, bleeding, Quinn said. No other injuries were reported.


    • #22
  23. No Caesar Thatcher
    No Caesar
    @NoCaesar

    Jordan Wiegand:

    Brian Clendinen:Considering being a taxi driver is one of the most dangerous professions out there way more dangerous than a cop. I think this is another piece of evidence that is starting to give merit to the liberal argument you hear that Uber really does not care about its contractors. Now are they any worse than your average corporation that relies heavily on contractors, probably not.

    This policy along with their no tip one, pretty much means I would not use Uber but one its competitors like Lyft. Considering the background checks and customer review requirements drivers are required to have, I would actually fell safer in some neighbors and not care in others if my driver was carrying.

    Your sentiments about Uber not caring about its contractors are correct. They will replace them with automated cars when it becomes possible.

    I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, but it is the reality of the situation. Uber isn’t interested in being a platform for ride sharing. It’s interested in creating a world where no one owns a car (at least not one that they themselves would drive), and transportation is a service.

    Hence the name – Uber Technologies.  When Netflix started they only sent DVDs in the mail…

    • #23
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