YouTube is tightening its restrictions for content about guns and now forbids videos about the selling and making of firearms, ammunition and accessories.
The Google-owned video sharing site recently banned videos about how to convert firearms to make them fire more quickly, such as bump stocks. The Justice Department recently took action to ban the devices that speed up the pace of gunfire and allow semi-automatic guns to fire at a rate that mimics a fully automatic firearm.
These new restrictions, which take effect next month, prevent videos involving direct sales of firearms or certain firearms accessories, as well as videos that link to firearms sales sites. Videos that show how to make and modify firearms are banned, also.
YouTubes move comes as gun control supporters have increasingly targeted tech firms in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla. last month that left 17 students and staff dead. Last month, gun control supporters attempted to pressure Amazon, Apple and Google to drop the NRAtv channel from its streaming video devices.
The new firearms video restrictions are an update of some already-established prohibitions regarding content about guns, the company says. "We routinely make updates and adjustments to our enforcement guidelines across all of our policies," YouTube said in a statement to USA TODAY. "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, specifically, items like ammunition, gatling triggers, and drop-in auto sears."
YouTube says on its website it will now prohibit videos about direct sales of firearms and accessories, instructional videos about making firearms and modifying them (to include, or example, high-capacity magazines).
But the new firearms content policy could have its downside and be unconstitutional, said the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which has a YouTube channel with more than 5,000 instructional videos. "We see the real potential for the blocking of educational content that serves instructional, skill-building and even safety purposes," the organization said in a statement.
The NSSF notes that Facebook has shut down some pages of firearms retailers that were following the social networks rules. "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, which has constitutional protection. Such actions also impinge on the Second Amendment."