Thursday, March 22, 2018

My Objections to New YouTube Firearms Policies

Kenneth turns 10, and gets a .22 rifle

Recently, YouTube was in the news because a number of channels featuring firearms info were given warnings, and even suspended, without just cause. After a short amount of squabbling, they said it was because they had recently put a bunch of people on screening duties who weren't familiar with community guidelines. And, they removed the strikes against the affected channels.

No sooner than THAT was over, and I'm talking about a period of a week, maybe, they posted some regulations regarding firearms content that they would no longer permit. Gun channels became upset, even the calm people.  I THINK some of the problem was just that the policy was poorly written; there were enough ambiguities that it could mean whatever they wanted it to mean. However, other aspects were clear, and ridiculous. Yes, there were some common sense items, too, but they were overwhelmed in the garbage. The following is the post I made on the YouTube Help Forum. I THINK you can find it, and comment, here.


The firearm policy is stated here ; there is a letter stating it will go into effect in 30 days, but I've lost my path to find it. I have DESIGNATED the text that concerns me.  NOTE: I am a citizen of the United States, and it is from that perspective that I speak.

Policies on content featuring firearms

YouTube prohibits certain kinds of content featuring firearms. Specifically, we don’t allow content that: 
  • 1. Intends to sell firearms or certain firearms accessories through direct sales (e.g., private sales by individuals) or links to sites that sell these items. These accessories include but may not be limited to accessories that enable a firearm to simulate automatic fire or convert a firearm to automatic fire (e.g., bump stocks, gatling triggers, drop-in auto sears, conversion kits), and high capacity magazines (i.e., magazines or belts carrying more than 30 rounds).
  • 2. Provides instructions on manufacturing a firearm, ammunition, high capacity magazinehomemade silencers/suppressors, or certain firearms accessories such as those listed above. This also includes instructions on how to convert a firearm to automatic or simulated automatic firing capabilities.
  • 3Shows users how to install the above-mentioned accessories or modifications.

Why these items are a problem.

A. (e.g., private sales by individuals). If the sum total of the concern YouTube has is preventing a private-party-to-private-party transaction, then SAY SO EXPLICITLY. The way this first paragraph is written (except for the highlighted parenthetical statement), it appears that legitimate companies doing business in accordance with ATF regulations may neither post videos, nor may links be provided to these legitimate businesses. HOWEVER: If it IS your intent to prohibit these businesses from posting videos or being linked, then make THAT explicit. The way it's worded is both confusing and disheartening.
B. and high capacity magazines (i.e., magazines or belts carrying more than 30 rounds). There is NO existing nationwide prohibition of magazines in excess of 30 rounds, nor is there any prohibition of belts holding more than 30 rounds. It is true that certain STATES and smaller jurisdictions have these restrictions in place, but for the majority of the country, these are perfectly legitimate.

C.  Provides instructions on manufacturing a firearm, ammunition, high capacity magazine. Taking these individually: Manufacturing a Firearm. The ATF has specifically stated that a manufacturer's license is ONLY required for a person who is in the BUSINESS of SELLING firearms. It is completely legal for an individual to manufacture a firearm for their personal use, or as a hobby. A substantial and totally legal business has sprung up to provide parts and instruction for those who choose to manufacture their own firearm, and there is ZERO evidence that these weapons have been used in the United States to commit crimes. Manufacturing Ammunition.  This is not a restricted or prohibited activity in ANY jurisdiction, as far as I know; I am one of the millions of hobbyists who reload ammunition. YouTube has served as an excellent resource for fellow hobbyists and competition shooters, and I would very much like to hear the justification for banning these instructional videos. Manufacturing high capacity magazines.  As stated above, these are NOT a restricted item except in a few areas. Again, I would very much like to hear the rationale for banning instructional videos on this topic. (Note: I've never heard that this is an issue)

Shows users how to install the above-mentioned accessories or modifications. Part of the problem here may be lack of clarity. It is absolutely the case that channels exist which demonstrate how to insert the completely legal high capacity magazines, which would be prohibited under this policy, and historical channels that demonstrate the operation of firearms which are belt-fed, also prohibited under this policy. This MUST be addressed. 

What ISN'T a problem.

A. Bump stocks.  Currently, bump stocks and other devices that increase the rate of fire vis artificial means are completely legal in most areas. However, legislation is pending which may change that. Therefore, I can understand YouTube's reticence to promulgate information about these devices. I think it's ridiculous for YouTube to take this action, but it is something I understand.
B. Homemade silencer/suppressors and conversion of semi-automatic firearms to fully automatic firearms.  The procedures for manufacturing items covered by the National Firearms Act are addressed here. Failure to comply is a felony, and thus I believe YouTube has a responsibility to take the common-sense step to prohibit dissemination of information which would lead to a criminal act.

YouTube clearly states its' mission and values, founded on Four Freedoms: Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Information, Freedom of Opportunity, and Freedom to Belong. The Policy Regarding Firearms violates the second and fourth of these freedoms. By refusing to allow videos featuring activities which are not harmful or illegal, YouTube has capriciously hindered the Freedom of Information, thus causing potential harm who are in need of that information to safely engage in the shooting sports. While the information might be available elsewhere, that in NO way changes the fact that YouTube has palpably violated a foundational freedom.
Secondly, by implementing this policy, IMMEDIATELY after allowing poorly trained individuals to assign unwarranted strikes to gun channels, which action YouTube has apologized for and attempted to correct, YouTube is sending a message to the gun channels that they are not wanted in the YouTube community. I see no other way in which the gun channels could interpret these actions; the similarity in outcome, and the close proximity of time, speak of a plan, not an accident. In doing this, YouTube has clearly violated the Fourth Freedom, Freedom to Belong.

I call on YouTube to immediately suspend plans to implement the new policy, and to initiate meaningful dialogue with owner/operators of gun channels, in order to recover lost credibility. Failing that, I caution owner/operators of other channels that they, too, may be at risk for summary execution at the whim of YouTube leadership.

Well, that's the end of my case.  Don't know if it will have any impact. It did, at least, prove to me that I could write a bit, which has been a concern of mine for the last few weeks. I hope to get back to reading and reviewing soon.

Peace be on your household.

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