Uber Bans Guns For Both Drivers & Passengers In A Move That Comes At An Important Time

A prominent transportation app made a pretty significant policy change recently, and it's worth your knowing about — but according to it, the apropos timing is coincidental. Here's the deal: Uber has banned guns for drivers and passengers, updating the "Legal" section of their website to include a firearms prohibition.

The news of Uber's about-face on firearms achieved increased prominence this week, after a deadly mass shooting at a South Carolina black church left nine people dead, placing the dual spectres of racism and gun violence firmly in the public consciousness. But the new policy has nothing to do with recent headlines, according to the company. In fact, as The Wall Street Journal detailed, an Uber company spokesperson has said that the new policy came into effect on June 10, a full week before the Charleston shooting.

In other words, this was clearly not an action taken to get Uber involved in a broader political or societal debate. Although, with the Charleston shooting having led President Obama to start talking about gun control again, it seems like the country could be headed for yet another simmering confrontation on the issue, and stories like these will definitely be a part of that conversation. Here's the new policy, as laid out on the company's website.

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.

Previously, as detailed by the AP, Uber simply deferred to whatever local gun laws were on the books where they operated, but now it's instituting a blanket ban. It's a sort of zero-tolerance policy that one of their primary competitors, Lyft, has already had in place for a while. Although their Weapons Policy, as detailed on their website, goes even a bit further, asserting that they maintain "sole judgement on what constitutes a "weapon."

Simply put, if you're the kind of person who regularly relies on these sorts of apps for transportation, you're going to need to start leaving your firearms at home. And if you're an Uber driver, well, same deal. Of course, there's no telling how many passengers and drivers were even carrying guns before this development — there was a recent self-defense case involving one of the company's drivers — but hopefully, this will allow some people to feel a bit safer on their ride.

.Images: Uber; Lyft