It’s not clear to me precisely what is and isn’t banned under the new guidelines. But that’s the point, right? The more ambiguous the new rules are, the easier it is to justify banning gun channels arbitrarily.
If I’m reading this correctly, simple demonstration videos showing how a particular gun operates aren’t banned *unless* they’re being used to promote sales. If you want to upload a video showing off your AR-15, you can — I think. If the gun’s manufacturer wants to upload a similar video with a link to where you can purchase it, nope. Banned. If the manufacturer wants to upload the same video without any link or express notice that they have that gun for sale? Unclear.
Likewise, I think it’s okay to upload a video showing how to install a commercially available gun accessory. What’s not okay are videos showing you how to manufacture that accessory yourself. No machining tutorials, no 3-D printed guns, no lessons on how to make your own bump stock — nothing that would give a crazy person ideas on how to modify his weapon to make it more lethal. In fact, even if your bump stock was purchased commercially, you can’t upload an installation video for it. There’s been a special anti-bump-stock rule in effect on YouTube since the Vegas massacre.
All clear? No? Too bad. Verboten videos include any 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.
If you upload a video showing how to install a suppressor you bought commercially, will you be banned? Unclear. If you intend to abide by the rules going forward but have videos in your channel’s archives that violate the new policy, will your account be banned if you don’t delete all of them immediately? Unclear.
“As much as I appreciate that they are now defining their guidelines much more clear…they have imposed this NEW rule without talking to anyone beforehand and there is no transitional period,” Sprave said. “Many gun channels must now be afraid, as they might get plenty of strikes in no time for older videos and then lose their channels. They should at least get some time to clean up their videos so the new rules are kept. Again, not the way you treat ‘partners.’”
One YouTube account maintained by Spike’s Tactical, a gun manufacturer based in Florida, has already been banned. Interestingly, it doesn’t seem to be over the “no gun ads” policy. Here’s a screenshot of the message they received from YouTube:
“Content that encourages or promotes violent or dangerous acts”? That’s a different category of banned content than the new rules related to firearms. Did Spike’s Tactical upload something controversial, above and beyond the usual instructional-gun-video fare?
Or is YouTube suggesting here that any instructional gun video “promotes violent or dangerous acts,” never mind that proper instruction should logically reduce gun-related accidents? If gun videos necessarily “promote violent acts,” the path is clear to banning all such videos from the site eventually. Which, although unfortunate, would at least mirror our national debate. No gun-control supporter wants to regulate guns at the margins, really. You can’t do much to reduce gun-related violence that way. The only solution for gun-grabbers is a total ban, starting with semiautomatic rifles and down the slippery slope from there. And increasingly they’re not shy about saying so.
Also, isn’t YouTube the same platform that hosts every dirtbag conspiracy-theory clip under the sun, including ones aimed at kids? I’m glad they’re applying scarce resources to the much greater scourge of dudes admiring their new Glocks or whatever. Stephen Miller makes a good point too:
YouTube is basically taking the Trump position that their videos and their very own product cause mass shootings and encourage deranged people and they don't even see it. It's kind of amazing. https://t.co/AZ7FtbA14L
— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) March 21, 2018
So YouTube can fairly be blamed for criminal acts engaged in by its audience? I know some tort lawyers who’d be cool with that.
One gun-related channel on YouTube claims it’s switching over to Pornhub to upload videos. Imagine: If that trend takes off, 20 years from now the AVN Awards and the annual NRA convention might be held together at the same venue. God bless America. Exit quotation from Alex Griswold:
I feel there should be a much louder debate over the fact that YouTube is banning an entire category of videos that are legal, nonviolent, non-hateful, and non-obscene, but are merely disliked by one political class https://t.co/CMvvcXdmxu
— Alex Griswold (@HashtagGriswold) March 21, 2018