Inside Logistics

Light load: Accidental arms shipment

A look at the less serious side of supply chain


August 10, 2012
by MM&D staff

WASHINGTON, DC: When is a TV not a TV? When it’s an assault rifle.

Usually buying consumer goods through Amazon.com is a simple, straight-forward procedure. Pick, pay, and wait for the shipment to be delivered. Seth Horvitz’s recent online shopping experience involved a few extra steps, including phoning the police and asking them to take possession of an illegal weapon.

Horvitz had put in an order for a television set, but what arrived on his doorstep was a Sig Sauer SIG716 semiautomatic assault rifle, which is illegal to possess in Washington, DC.

Inside the box were shipping labels indicating the weapon was destined for a Pennsylvania gun store. How the shipping mix-up happened is unknown. As the Washington Post writes, Horvitz had difficulties getting any response at all.

“He…contacted Amazon, UPS, the seller and his credit card company. At first, he said, ‘No one claimed any responsibility.'”

The one phone call that did net him a response was one to the local police department who came and took possession of the weapon.

In an interview with Wired, Horvitz explains how he thinks he ended up with a gun.

“There’s a UPS label on the outside of the box that matched my information, and had the tracking number,” Horvitz said. “But underneath my label — the plastic bag with my label on it — there was a UPS label affixed to the box with other information on it.

“UPS puts the name label on and then they put a second small sticker—a redundant sticker with the tracking information on it,” he said. “There were two different small stickers as well. There was a small sticker that matched the label under mine, and a small sticker that matched mine.”

Horvitz told the Post he received a refund for the TV from the third-party vendor who was selling through Amazon, so that part of the situation has been cleared up, but in a television interview, he said he still wants to know how something like this could have happened, especially in light of recent episodes of gun violence.