If you thought Big Government was the main threat to your free speech and gun rights, think again. Big Tech has come for both in recent weeks.
As The Washington Post reported in a May 30 article, Salesforce has rolled out a new company policy that “bars customers that sell a range of firearms — including automatic and semiautomatic — from using its e-commerce technology.”
Salesforce, a $120-billion Fortune 500 company based in San Francisco, creates software which many companies depend on to sell their wares online.
The exact words of this new policy specify that: “Worldwide, customers may not use a Service to transact online sales of any of the following firearms and/or related accessories to private citizens.”
The following list of weapons includes automatic firearms, and semi-automatic firearms with the capacity to accept detachable magazines and various accessories. The accessories are items such as a “thumbhole stock, folding or telescoping stock, grenade launcher or flare launcher, flash or sound suppressor, forward pistol grip, pistol grip (in the case of a rifle) or second pistol grip (in the case of a pistol), barrel shroud; semi-automatic firearms with a fixed magazine that can accept more than 10 rounds.”
The Baltimore Sun used a similar smug tone as the Post cheering corporate censorship of gun owners, “what the federal government has failed to do for a generation — adopt reasonable limits on the most powerful firearms in the wake of mass shootings like last Friday’s in Virginia Beach — might actually be achieved in the coming years by ethically-minded business leaders.”
The Sun editorial twisted the knife of this news by mocking how “the NRA and its ilk may decry this as discriminating against gun owners, but, as luck would have it, the Constitution doesn’t actually guarantee the rights of gun retailers to buy any software they please.” The paper then topped that statement off by noting “Salesforce doesn’t have to sell to companies that profit from guns used to mow down schoolchildren.”
Both The Post and Sun have speculated on whether the December hire of a new executive to run the Salesforce Office of Ethical and Humane Use had an impact on the policy. Chairman & Co-CEO Marc Benioff has openly decried the ownership of various firearms in the past, particularly AR-15s. He reportedly pledged $1 million to March for Our Lives, a group pushing for gun control.
There's a wider media angle here: last year, Marc Benioff bought Time magazine. He told The New York Times he would not be "operationally involved" in this investment, so when the Times asked if he would be "spiritually involved," he replied "I feel our values are aligned." He's not wrong about that.
Salesforce is far from the only major company go after gun companies.
The Post further noted that this very year, “Dick’s Sporting Goods said it would pull guns and ammunition off the shelves of 125 of its 720 stores.” Similarly, Walmart “ended the sales of military-style firearms in 2015.”
The article observed how even companies which have had nothing to do with guns have put massive amounts of money toward anti-gun causes, “Levi Strauss & Co. pledged more than $1 million in September to support nonprofits and youth activists working to end gun violence.”