National gun rights and firearms industry groups are warning YouTube that its actions could estrange the video sharing platform from millions of users, and violate constitutional rights.
In response to YouTube’s pending policy updates on videos that include firearms content, the National Rifle Association, and National Shooting Sports Foundation are concerned the move could herald a comprehensive effort to ferret out lawful gun culture and separate it from the site.
“Millions of Americans watch YouTube videos every day to learn more about the safe and responsible use of firearms, and those videos show law-abiding gun owners participating in lawful behavior,” said the NRA in a statement. “By banning this content, YouTube is engaging in politically motivated censorship and alienating the millions of people who turn to the website for education and training.”
The new rules, announced last Tuesday, including making it clear that YouTube will not host videos highlighting guns or some accessories such as bump stocks or magazines capable of holding more than 30 rounds for private sale by individuals. The Google subsidiary also said it won’t allow clips on manufacturing ammunition, guns, or suppressors or how to install or modify certain accessories. Further, links back to gun dealers and makers will not be allowed.
The NSSF warns this could have a negative effect on otherwise legal firearm commerce. “Much like Facebook, YouTube now acts as a virtual public square,” said the gun trade group. “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.”
Meanwhile, content creators have been banging the drum to migrate to dedicated gun-centric platforms such as Full30, GetZone, UGE and James Yeager’s LiberTV start-up as well as alternative sites such as Vimeo, BitChute and even PornHub with reportedly good results. In the case of the latter, an adult website owned by Luxembourg-based MindGeek, the company has said they may look into a non-sexually explicit alternative offshoot for such content in the future, so it’s not so crazy to think there are valid alternatives for YouTube gun vloggers on the horizon.