Teri Webster

Gun rights advocates on Friday criticized YouTube for its new policy of banning videos that showcase legal gun activity such as demonstrating safety and use. Leaders of gun-rights groups called the move politically-motivated censorship.

What are people saying?

The National Rifle Association called the policy clear evidence of YouTube’s anti-gun politics. “This new policy runs counter to the American traditions of open dialogue and tolerance for diverse opinions and firmly plants YouTube, and its parent company Google, against the freedoms so many Americans hold dear,” according to an NRA statement published by the Washington Free Beacon.

Chris Cox, head of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, said in a statement:

YouTube is now in the business of political posturing and censorship. 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. 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. Currently, anyone can go to YouTube and watch a video to learn how to make a bomb, yet the company wants to ban videos depicting lawful gun use? It’s absurd.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry’s trade group, said it is concerned the new policy will be used to target the gun makers and sellers.

In a message to its members, the group stated: “YouTube’s announcement this week of a new firearms content policy is troubling. We suspect it will be interpreted to block much more content than the stated goal of firearms and certain accessory sales. Especially worrisome is the potential for blocking educational content that serves an instructional and skill-building purpose. YouTube’s policy announcement has also served to invite political activists to flood their review staff with complaints about any video to which they may proffer manufactured outrage.”

How has YouTube responded?

YouTube has faced recent backlash over policies that demonetize many creators on its platform. Its algorithm has also promoted to viewers bizarre, sexually-charged videos of child abuse. The site had already banned the channel of firearms manufacturer Spike’s Tactical before later reinstating it, the Free Beacon reported.

The latest changed was described by a YouTube spokeswoman as routine guideline changes.

“We routinely make updates and adjustments to our enforcement guidelines across all of our policies,” a YouTube spokeswoman recently told Bloomberg Technology. “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.”