Pro-2nd Amendment Groups, Content Creators Protest YouTube’s New Rules

Gun rights advocates say the new rules are designed to suppress ‘content that depicts wholly legal and constitutionally protected activity’ on the platform.
Pro-2nd Amendment Groups, Content Creators Protest YouTube’s New Rules
The Google and YouTube logos are seen at the entrance to the Google offices in Los Angeles on Nov. 21, 2019. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)
Michael Clements

Second Amendment advocates are protesting YouTube’s Community Guidelines, which will restrict and outright ban certain gun content when they’re implemented on June 18.

Under the new rules, videos selling firearms are prohibited, as are videos demonstrating how to remove safety devices, install or use devices that simulate fully automatic fire, manufacture guns or accessories, and convert semi-automatic weapons to fully automatic weapons.

Livestream videos that “show someone holding, handling, or transporting a firearm” are also banned.

Content showing the use of homemade firearms, certain gun accessories, and automatic weapons will be age-restricted. The age restriction will not apply to the depiction of firearms in games, movies, or police and combat videos that may be of public interest.

The new rules largely echo content restrictions that are already in place. YouTube is owned by parent company Alphabet, which also owns Google.

Critics of the new rules include YouTube content creator Richard D. Hayes II, a Houston-based lawyer and co-host of the Armed Attorneys channel. He said YouTube has a history of throttling Second Amendment content.

“The Armed Attorneys on YouTube have already experienced censorship, and YouTube representatives have been unresponsive. Everyone must understand that it is only a matter of time before the scope of their insidious mandate affects all 2A [Second Amendment] content creators and supporters,” Mr. Hayes wrote in an email to The Epoch Times.

A Google spokesperson told The Epoch Times that community guidelines must occasionally be reviewed and revised.

“These updates to our firearms policy are part of our continued efforts to maintain policies that reflect the current state of content on YouTube. For example, 3D printing has become more readily available in recent years, so we’re expanding our restrictions on content involving homemade firearms,” the spokesperson wrote in an email.

“We regularly review our guidelines and consult with outside experts to make sure we are drawing the line at the right place.”

Gun rights groups claim that the website was pressured into the restrictions by gun-control organizations and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Aidan Johnston, director of federal affairs for Gun Owners of America (GOA), called on Congress to investigate what may have sparked the policy change.

“Congress must demand answers on how influential DA Bragg and gun-control groups were in facilitating this change and determine whether the Biden administration or its White House Office of Gun Control was weaponized to force the censorship of Second Amendment content,” Mr. Johnston wrote on the GOA website.

Mr. Bragg’s office didn’t respond to an email requesting comment for this story, but he issued a statement stating he is pleased with the new guidelines.

“We applaud YouTube for implementing these important commonsense fixes to their community guidelines, which will further limit dangerous videos and minimize firearm content for minors,” Mr. Bragg said.

In an April 4 letter to Google CEO Neal Mohan, Mr. Bragg pointed out that YouTube’s Community Guidelines already prohibit videos on how to make guns and that gun control advocates and politicians had already expressed concern to the tech company.

“Letters sent to YouTube from Everytown for Gun Safety in 2021 and the United States Senate in 2022 both detail how YouTube’s Community Guidelines specifically prohibit content instruction viewers on how to create these [ghost] guns,” Mr. Bragg wrote.

Mr. Bragg also pointed out a 2023 study by the Tech Transparency Project that claims that YouTube’s algorithm directs young viewers of video game content to content related to guns that is ostensibly already prohibited.

“If a gamer showed interest in the videos recommended by YouTube, YouTube’s algorithm served up more and more content related to real-world violence,” the study states.

The new guidelines don’t explain how the exception for certain types of gun media, such as games and movies, will jibe with the algorithm issues mentioned by Mr. Bragg or the Tech Transparency Project.

Second Amendment advocates criticized the new guidelines as a violation of their First Amendment right to free expression. They said that YouTube has caved to pressure from gun control groups.

Erich Pratt, senior vice president for Gun Owners of America, in an interview on NTD's "Capitol Report" on May 28, 2022. (NTD/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)
Erich Pratt, senior vice president for Gun Owners of America, in an interview on NTD's "Capitol Report" on May 28, 2022. (NTD/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

The head of GOA said he believes the real agenda is to condition future generations away from the legal and responsible use of guns.

“Restricting access to adults only—for content that depicts wholly legal and constitutionally protected activity—is wrong, and it aims to push a sinister narrative to minors that firearms are evil,” Erich Pratt, senior vice president of GOA, wrote on the organization’s website.

“In turn, as younger generations come of age, they will not question or push back on further violations of our Second Amendment rights.”

Alan Gottlieb, executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, agreed. Founded in 1974, the foundation has been involved in 260 Second Amendment court cases.

Mr. Gottlieb didn’t say whether his group intends to sue over the new rules, but he didn’t rule the possibility out.

“These new YouTube guidelines for firearms-related content are very disturbing,“ Mr. Gottlieb wrote in an email to The Epoch Times. ”The Second Amendment Foundation is not happy with the new rules. We are in the process of formulating an action plan.”

Michael Clements is an award-winning Epoch Times reporter covering the Second Amendment and individual rights. Mr. Clements has 30 years of experience in media and has worked for outlets including The Monroe Journal, The Panama City News Herald, The Alexander City Outlook, The Galveston County Daily News, The Texas City Sun, The Daily Court Review,