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Uber bans drivers and passengers from carrying firearms

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Uber will no longer help armed people get around. New rules quietly published on the ride-hailing app's website this month now prohibit passengers and drivers from carrying guns while using the service.

"Uber and its affiliates ... prohibit possessing firearms of any kind in a vehicle," read the new rules. Those found to violate the rule "may" lose access to Uber's services. The company explains its rational behind the move thusly: "We seek to ensure that everyone using the Uber digital platform ... feels safe and comfortable using the service."

Ride unarmed, or don't ride at all

The new rules come just as gun control is returning to the forefront of Americans' minds. On Wednesday, a 21-year-old white man entered a black church in Charleston, South Carolina and opened fire. It was just the latest in a spat of mass shootings across America over the years — this one took nine lives.

But Uber says that the rule is not a direct response to the shooting. A spokesperson tells The Wall Street Journal that the new policy came into effect on June 10th, a week before the shooting.

The new policy also raises the question of what Uber can and can't tell its drivers to do. Uber's business relies on legally treating its drivers as independent contractors, not employees. A commission in California recently ruled that an Uber driver there was legally an employee, potentially undermining the company's business model. For what it's worth, Lyft, an Uber competitor, similarly bans all weapons from its vehicles.