This blog was originally published on The Libertarian Republic, June 22, 2015.
By Sarah Gompper
In the wake of a horrific shooting in Charleston and in the midst of renewed discussion of gun control, the internet is in a buzz over Uber’s announcement: no more guns! Bad on you, Uber. The new ban will only hurt the people you aim to serve, and will have the greatest effect on your most vulnerable passengers.
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.
This ban will be applied universally, regardless of carry laws in given localities.
Let’s think about who used Uber. Uber allows for easy transport; people request a ride and pay the fair on their mobile phones. Uber’s drivers are independent contractors, meaning there is no need to deal with large taxi companies. Uber is convenient, and Uber is safe.
In my experience, one of the most popular uses of Uber is for safety in uncertain situations. Many women will use Uber to avoid walking alone when they feel uncomfortable. Often times Uber serves those who are intoxicated and cannot drive themselves, those who are out late, and those who are unfamiliar with their surroundings or have gotten lost or stranded.
Those are some of the same reasons women carry guns. Protection.
For Uber to tell the world they will no longer drive people who carry guns, is to tell people in bad situations, those who already feel vulnerable enough to protect themselves by carrying, that they are on their own.
Uber’s competitor, Lyft, bans all weapons in their vehicles, effectively leaving carriers stranded. In my mind, Uber’s announcement creates a place in the market for a new competitor which will not demand vulnerability from its patrons.
I am on the lookout for a company to give my service to, one which will respect my constitutional right to protect myself, especially when I’m in the sort of dangerous situation where I would need a ride from a stranger.