YouTube, easily the world’s largest video host, has entered the gun control debate with a policy that has many in the firearms industry crying foul.
Following Dick’s Sporting Goods and others that have changed firearms policies following the Parkland shooting, YouTube has banned videos that “promote or link to websites selling firearms and accessories” including bump stocks and other devices designed to increase the fire rate of semi-automatic weapons. You can read the full policy below:
After the policy update, YouTube released a statement through Bloomberg, saying:
We routinely make updates and adjustments to our enforcement guidelines across all of our policies. While we’ve long prohibited the sale of firearms, we recently notified creators of updates we will be making around content promoting the sale or manufacture of firearms and their accessories.
The bulk of the controversy stems from YouTube’s seemingly-intentionally vague statements regarding the new policy. Content creators (this website included) were informed of the change and given until “April” to figure out what to do about their content that breaks the new rules.
Further compounding the issue is the lack of clear direction from YouTube on what sort of content will be allowed to stay. Some think that only videos showing how to modify firearms in certain ways or attach certain accessories, but the new rules seem to be left intentionally vague, which many (this author included) find more than a little unfair.
Videos detailing the “manufacturing of ammunition” are also called out under the new policy, which would presumably cover things like reloading tutorials and the like.
As it stands, it looks like YouTube will be focusing on devices that simulate automatic fire in a semi-automatic weapon, or show how to convert it to such. The thing that worries me is the number of things that could fall under “certain accessories”. Does a 3-Gun trigger count? Does showing someone how to polish a disconnector to smooth out a trigger count? When strikes against a channel can quickly result in the channel coming down, these are important distinctions.
If we link to a site that decides to start carrying bump stocks, are we going to have content taken down?
Policy changes are one thing, and the firearm industry is used to having its fortune shift with the blowing of the political winds, but many are justifiably worried about their livelihood when they could, going by these new rules, have their channels taken down over safe, lawful demonstrations and consumer reviews that help people decide how to spend their hard-earned money, even if those demonstrations don’t include anything related to the bump stocks and other items specifically listed as being prohibited.
In short, some clarity would be nice, as well as some more defined rulings on what is and is not allowed. Until then, we’ll be watching this closely and will be updating our audience as we either get clarification from YouTube or come up with another solution.