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YouTube’s New Gun Content Rules Spark Backlash from Second Amendment Advocates

Gun rights advocates are raising concerns over YouTube’s new Community Guidelines, which will impose restrictions and bans on certain gun-related content starting on June 18. The rules prohibit videos that sell firearms or demonstrate how to remove safety devices, install or use devices simulating fully automatic fire, manufacture guns or accessories, and convert semi-automatic weapons to fully automatic ones. Livestream videos that show the handling or transportation of firearms are also banned. Content featuring homemade firearms, specific gun accessories, and automatic weapons will be age-restricted.

Critics of the new guidelines argue that YouTube has a history of censoring Second Amendment content. Richard D. Hayes II, a Houston-based lawyer and co-host of the Armed Attorneys channel, expressed concerns about the platform’s censorship practices. He believes that it is only a matter of time before the restrictions impact all Second Amendment content creators and supporters.

YouTube, owned by Alphabet, Google’s parent company, claims that the updates to their firearms policy reflect the current state of content on the platform. The company cited the increased availability of 3D printing as a reason for expanding restrictions on homemade firearms. YouTube regularly reviews its guidelines and consults with outside experts to ensure they draw the line appropriately.

Gun rights groups argue that YouTube was influenced by gun-control organizations and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in implementing these restrictions. Aidan Johnston, director of federal affairs for Gun Owners of America (GOA), called on Congress to investigate the policy change and determine if external pressure played a role.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg expressed satisfaction with the new guidelines, stating that they would limit dangerous videos and minimize firearm content accessible to minors. In a letter to Google CEO Neal Mohan, Bragg highlighted that YouTube’s Community Guidelines already prohibit videos on making guns and that gun control advocates and politicians had expressed concerns to the tech company.

Bragg also referenced a study by the Tech Transparency Project in 2023, which claimed that YouTube’s algorithm directs young viewers of video game content to prohibited gun-related content. The study suggested that if a viewer showed interest in recommended videos, the algorithm would serve up more real-world violence content.

Second Amendment advocates argue that the new guidelines infringe on their First Amendment right to free expression. They believe that YouTube has succumbed to pressure from gun control groups. Gun Owners of America’s senior vice president, Erich Pratt, criticized the restrictions, stating that they aim to condition future generations to view firearms as evil and ultimately erode Second Amendment rights.

Alan Gottlieb, the executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, also expressed concern about the new guidelines. While he did not specify if his organization plans to sue over the rules, he did not rule out the possibility and stated that they are formulating an action plan.

Overall, gun rights advocates are skeptical of YouTube’s new guidelines, viewing them as a potential threat to their constitutional rights and fearing the platform’s censorship of Second Amendment content. They believe that these restrictions may have been influenced by external pressures and aim to shape public opinion on firearms.

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