Google has officially adopted a new policy banning the sale of firearms, ammunition and related products from its Google Shopping service.
A Google Shopping policy page lists "guns, ammunition and knives" among its prohibited items; searches for "gun scopes," "5.56 ammo" and "remington 700" are among a host of terms that currently return a "did not match any results" page from the search engine giant's shopping site:
According to Search Engine Land, Google has been notifying online merchants that they will not be permitted to continue listing weapons-related items for sale on Google Shopping.
"We do not allow the promotion or sale of weapons and any related products such as ammunitions or accessory kits on Google Shopping. In order to comply with our new policies, please remove any weapon-related products from your data feed and then re-submit your feed in the Merchant Center," a letter posted on Guns & Ammo from Google to one such retailer stated.
According to the Agence France-Presse news agency, Google made the change when it turned its "product search" free listing service into Google Shopping, which has paid listings -- thus requiring it be brought in compliance with Google's advertising policies.
"Our company has a strong culture and values, and we’ve chosen not to allow ads that promote products and services that are incompatible with these values," Google's letter stated.
As a result, Google Shopping "doesn't allow the promotion of weapons or devices designed to cause serious harm or injury," including "guns, gun parts or hardware, ammunition, bombs, knives, throwing stars, and brass knuckles," according to AFP.
Outdoor Hub said the policy change "censors" firearm searches, while Guns & Ammo called it "disappointing" -- particularly given the sharp rise in gun sales. An online petition to "tell Google not to interfere with our Second Amendment rights" had garnered more than 600 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon.
The National Rifle Association accused Google of making a "calculated political statement" with its "new and discriminatory policy."
"This appears to be a calculated political statement by Google at a time when most other large online retailers and search services are increasing the level of information they provide and the number of gun-related products they offer for sale," an NRA statement said. "Fortunately, with so many other options available to consumers, Google's attempt to limit information about legal and constitutionally protected products will likely prove futile."
Search Engine Land noted that while Google seems to be within its rights to determine what advertisers can and cannot cannot hawk, "it also seems like a slippery slope to use vague terms like “culture and values” to determine who can and can’t list products in Shopping Search."