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Etsy Bans Sale of Fake Guns

You probably don’t think of guns when you think of Etsy, the marketplace known for handmade goods and vintage items. Indeed, the site prohibits the sale of firearms and weapons. But on Monday, Etsy announced a new update to that policy: banning most “imitation firearms.”

The reasons cited were safety (“the risk that these items could either cause physical harm or be confused for real weapons is too great”) and legal (“while we can’t offer legal advice, we want to help our sellers comply with legal and industry standards”).

“We know that there is a talented and creative group of people on Etsy making toy, replica, and fantasy weapons,” Etsy wrote in its announcement. “Wherever possible, we want to support craft and creativity. We encourage all sellers to look carefully at the laws that apply to your items and make sure what you are selling is in compliance. In some cases, replica guns that are too realistic will have to be removed.”

Etsy will give sellers a listing credit for items it removes.

The marketplace provided a description of three types of “imitation firearms” impacted as follows:

    • Replica or look-alike guns: these are items made to resemble actual firearms. Any item depicted in such a way that an average person could reasonably mistake it for a real gun will not be allowed.


  • Toy guns, such as cap guns: in most cases, these will be treated like replica or look-alike guns. If a listing for a toy gun makes it clear to the average viewer, through the photos and description, that the item is not a real gun, then the listing is likely allowed. Check national and local laws for any additional restrictions on cap guns and newly made toy guns.


  • BB guns and airsoft guns: Etsy does not allow the sale of BB guns, which fire metal projectiles. Airsoft guns, which fire plastic projectiles, must have permanent blaze orange barrel markings or a permanent blaze orange barrel plug. Again, check local laws for any additional restrictions on the sale of BB or airsoft guns.

Etsy said it modeled its weapons policy in part on US federal law, and emphasized it was sellers’ responsibility to know and follow all applicable laws. “This includes the local laws of potential buyers and any laws pertaining to shipping to different states and different countries. Some items may face additional legal restrictions or are prohibited outright in certain places.”

It appears all those charm, chocolate and soap guns listed on Etsy are safe – as long as they don’t look too realistic.

You can find more information in the Etsy announcement.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.