YouTube's Policy On Gun Videos Still Uncertain

When YouTube announced its new policy regarding firearm videos, a lot of people were concerned. While it certainly looked pretty straightforward, it wasn’t. Not for many gun channel owners, at least.

Over time, however, it appears that the subject hasn’t gotten much clearer.

YouTube is the land of people doing stupid stuff, cats, and, for firearms enthusiasts, guns — lots and lots of guns. From tutorials and reviews to footage of shooters just doing their thing, it’s all on YouTube for your viewing pleasure. For now.

That’s because when a new YouTube gun video policy went into effect in April, just what is and isn’t taboo is far from settled. Instead of thousands of educational and informative videos on virtually any kind of weapon imaginable, YouTube could instead be home to more cats.

The idea that firearms content, seen by many as both a First and Second Amendment issue, could be tossed by someone who knows nothing about gun culture has video producers entering digital survivalist mode.

They aren’t playing a game of wait and see. They’re bracing for impact.

“The entire industry uses YouTube as a repository of information. It’s huge,” said Jon Patton, whose channel and brand The Gun Collective has almost 130,000 YouTube subscribers and about 12.5 million views. “The same way Facebook could change elections, YouTube could silence an entire industry.”

Unlike the majority of video producers with small to midsize followings, Tim Harmsen’s almost 700,000 YouTube subscribers on his Military Arms Channel grants him something others don’t have: access. He has a direct line to YouTube through a YouTube representative with insider intel.

What he’s learned by questioning that contact since the announcement is, well, not much. So far, he said, his requests for clarification haven’t really been answered. If YouTube officials understand the nuances of their own gun policy, they haven’t told Harmsen.

The whole thing is a pretty interesting read, and something we as gun owners and uses of sites like YouTube should make a note of.

YouTube, as a private company, has a right to host and not host whatever content they want.  However, it also owes it to its content creators to be clear. Does a video on how to change the stock of your rifle constitute a “conversion” of the weapon? Are videos on assembly and disassembly of your weapon going to be considered videos on building a gun? Is a review considered an attempt to sell the weapon?

There’s a lot of gray area in there, and people have a right to want answers.

YouTube, because it is not clear about its policy, is hurting itself in the long run. While its basically the only game in town for most gun channels–trust me, as someone who has toyed with the idea of a gun-related channel myself, I’ve looked–it’ll only take time before someone opens up and starts a site that will allow all that kind of content without the baggage of some alternatives (InRange TV has gone to PornHub, for example).

In the meantime, I suppose it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission. My advice, though? Don’t count on YouTube for your revenue. It’s entirely likely that it’ll at least demonetize everything you create if it relates to guns for the foreseeable future.