Editor’s note: Below you’ll find a cogent and gently worded “call to action” in response to Youtube’s new policy on firearm-related content. It was penned by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association. While I agree 1,000 percent with everything the NSSF is saying, I’d go one step further. Actually, probably, 10 steps further. Censorship is death to democracy! The power brokers that essential control the interwebs — InstaFace, GoogleTube, TweetHub — are censoring pro-gun voices and content producers. This is not new news. It’s been going on for quite some time. Through de-monetization, throttling access to subscribers and followers, and even shutting down pages of established contributors, these platforms have silently declared war on the 2A. Sure, they’ll say it’s in the name of “saving lives” and “protecting the children.” But we know better. It’s ultimately about disarming the masses. Gun content that informs, inspires and entertains audiences is problematic because it creates more free-thinking, self-reliant individuals. It creates more good guys with guns, more enemies of Big Brother. When the music stops and there is a day of reckoning, the last thing those oligarchs sitting in their ivory towers want to confront is a well-informed and well-armed citizenry. Anyways…
NSSF YouTube’s New Policy Provides Cause for Concern
You may see media coverage of the adoption by YouTube of a new firearms content policy that has the potential to affect our industry and your business.
YouTube’s announcement this week of a new firearms content policy is troubling. We suspect it will be interpreted to block much more content than the stated goal of firearms and certain accessory sales. Especially worrisome is the potential for blocking educational content that serves an instructional and skill-building purpose. YouTube’s policy announcement has also served to invite political activists to flood their review staff with complaints about any video to which they may proffer manufactured outrage.
Much like Facebook, YouTube now acts as a virtual public square. The exercise of what amounts to censorship, then, can legitimately be viewed as the stifling of commercial free speech, which has constitutional protection. Such actions also impinge on the Second Amendment.
In what we see as a parallel situation, Facebook has repeatedly shut down the pages of legitimate and reputable firearms retailers that were following Facebook’s own rules. The interpretation depended on the reviewers, the vast majority of whom have little familiarity with our business practices, let alone our products, and many of whom do not even do their work from American soil.
Both First and Second Amendment rights are essential to the liberty we enjoy as American citizens. In a very real sense, the de facto curtailment of First Amendment right of its firearm related business users, YouTube is edging toward simultaneously infringing upon the Second Amendment rights of the customers of these affected businesses.
Commerce in Firearms is Essential
As Circuit Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain wrote in his 36-page opinion, “Our forefathers recognized that the prohibition of commerce in firearms worked to undermine the right to keep and bear arms.”
This argument can be logically extended to social media platforms. It is time that social media platform management realizes its broader collective responsibility since it commands so much of today’s virtual public square. Suppressing the expression of First Amendment protected political speech and of commercial speech is wrong, even if they think they are acting in the public interest. The resulting impingement of lawful commerce in firearms that brings with it the infringement of Second Amendment rights is equally wrong and it should stop.
Tell YouTube that this new policy is a cause for concern. Ask that its implementation and review process be fair, fully informed and respectful of your business. Please be polite and remember that the person on the other end will likely know little about firearms. Provide comments directly to YouTube.
YouTube’s New Policies on Content Featuring Firearms
YouTube prohibits certain kinds of content featuring firearms. Specifically, we don’t allow content that:
- Intends to sell firearms or certain firearms accessories through direct sales (e.g., private sales by individuals) or links to sites that sell these items. These accessories include but may not be limited to accessories that enable a firearm to simulate automatic fire or convert a firearm to automatic fire (e.g., bump stocks, gatling triggers, drop-in auto sears, conversion kits), and high capacity magazines (i.e., magazines or belts carrying more than 30 rounds).
- Provides instructions on manufacturing a firearm, ammunition, high capacity magazine, homemade silencers/suppressors, or certain firearms accessories such as those listed above. This also includes instructions on how to convert a firearm to automatic or simulated automatic firing capabilities.
- Shows users how to install the above-mentioned accessories or modifications.