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YouTube restricts more gun videos, further prohibits firearm sales

YouTube imposes further restrictions on gun videos. Creators are pushing back. (Image source: YouTube screencap)

YouTube made a policy change this week, reinforcing their prohibition of content that intends to sells guns and adding restrictions on certain firearm accessories. The new rules also forbid videos providing guidance on "manufacturing a firearm, ammunition, high capacity magazine, [or] homemade silencers/suppressors."

Additional accessories blacklisted on the company's website include "bump stocks, gatling triggers, drop-in auto sears, conversion kits, and high capacity magazines (i.e. magazines or belts carrying more than 30 rounds)."

Bloomberg first reported on the video site's low profile policy changes, saying that "for many gun-rights supporters, YouTube has been a haven."

One channel, InRange TV, transferred its videos to PornHub, citing more freedom on that site. Another, Spike's Tactical, announced that its channel's page was suspended by YouTube on Tuesday, due to "repeated or severe violations."

InRange took to Facebook in protest, posting that "YouTube's newly released vague and one-sided firearms policy makes it abundantly clear that YouTube cannot be counted upon to be a safe harbor for a wide variety of views and subject matter," whereas "PornHub has a history of being a proactive voice in the online community, as well as operating a resilient and robust video streaming platform."

Spike's Tactical also used Facebook as a forum, stating, "Well, since we've melted some snowflakes on YouTube and got banned, might as well set IG and FB on fire!" YouTube said Spike's had been removed by mistake, and is now reinstated.

A spokeswoman from YouTube released a statement explaining the company's new policy restrictions, 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 or their accessories."

The National Shooting Sports Foundation reacted to YouTube's policy changes, saying "We suspect it will be interpreted to block much more content than the stated goal of firearms and certain accessory sales. We see the real potential for the blocking of educational content that serves instructional, skill-building and even safety purposes. 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."

The Washington Free Beacon made a point to report that YouTube did not remove the NRA channel.

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