Over the last few weeks, YouTube has censored some of the biggest firearms channels on the platform for simply uploading videos that show them attaching suppressors to their guns. In response, many of these channels have embraced free speech video sharing platform Rumble and used it to post uncensored versions of their content.
The recent wave of YouTube censorship appears to be related to a change in the way YouTube is interpreting its Firearms policy. This policy prohibits content that provides instructions on manufacturing “homemade silencers/suppressors” but there are no explicit restrictions on attaching suppressors to firearms.
However, there is a big caveat at the end of this Firearms policy which states: “Please note this is not a complete list.”
Some of the gun channels that had their videos flagged suggested that YouTube is now using this caveat to target videos that show silencers being attached to guns.
Mrgunsngear, a creator with 776,000 YouTube subscribers who reviews guns and accessories and covers gun-related news, has had several of his videos removed over the last month and received multiple strikes.
These strikes temporarily prevent channels from uploading new videos and increase their risk of being permanently terminated.
In a video discussing some of the strikes, Mrgunsngear said that he believes YouTube has started to “change how they’re interpreting” the Firearms policy.
He added that a YouTube representative told him that his videos had received a strike for either putting a magazine that’s greater than 30 rounds into a gun or putting a silencer on a firearm (something that YouTube deemed to be “modifying a firearm.”)
Mrgunsngear also noted that some of his videos showing silencers being attached to guns had been flagged for “using a homemade silencer,” even though none of the silencers in these videos were homemade.
He said that his YouTube representative told him that going forward, firearms creators will get a strike and have videos removed if they:
- Insert magazines that are greater than 30 rounds into a firearm
- “Modify” firearms (YouTube’s definition of “modifying” includes installing accessories such as lights, hand guards, optics, and silencers
Because of these enforcement changes, Mrgunsngear said he will now be blurring some things out of his videos going forward. He added that all of his videos, including those that were removed by YouTube, are available on Rumble.
Firearms channel Top Shot Dustin, which has 775,000 YouTube subscribers, had two videos removed in January and his channel was given a warning and a strike.
Top Shot Dustin claimed that none of his content violated YouTube’s rules and said he’s now posting uncensored versions of his videos on Rumble. Donut Operator, a YouTuber who breaks down police shootings and crime videos, added that Top Shot Dustin’s video was flagged because it showed “the screwing on of a suppressor.”
Ammoland, a website that covers shooting and sports news, reported that NFA Review Channel, which has 155,000 subscribers on YouTube, received a recent strike because a video contained footage of a suppressor being attached to a firearm. Ammoland added that NFA Review Channel will continue uploading to YouTube but is also posting content to its new Rumble channel.
Garand Thumb, a firearms channel with 2.75 million YouTube subscribers, recently had a video titled “The best fighting carbine ever made? Knight’s Armament SR-15” removed for allegedly violating YouTube’s Firearms policy. The channel was also given a warning.
Garand Thumb tweeted that the video had been “unfairly targeted” for “attaching suppressors to” firearms and that YouTube had targeted the video retroactively. He added that YouTube had removed his video while he was on his “one vacation of the year” with his family.
Forgotten Weapons, a YouTube channel that features obscure guns and has 2.5 million subscribers, was given a warning and had a video titled “Knight’s XM9 Beretta ‘Hush Puppy’ – For USAF Survival Kits” removed.
According to Donut Operator, this video was removed because it showed a suppressor being attached to a gun.
Another large firearms channel that hasn’t been caught up in this recent wave of censorship, Iraqveteran8888, also recently started porting its content to Rumble. The channel has 2.66 million subscribers and said it will be posting exclusive content on Rumble.
This recent crackdown on firearms channels follows years of YouTube increasingly squeezing creators that feature guns on their channels. Many channels featuring guns have been demonetized and live streams of peaceful gun rallies have been removed.
Senators have also pressured YouTube to crack down on channels that feature 3D-printed guns and remove their videos.
As censorship pressure from YouTube and politicians has mounted, Rumble has given creators a platform and reported record levels of growth. It’s CEO, Chris Pavlovski, has pointed to YouTube’s “nefarious” censorship as one of the factors that has fueled Rumble’s recent growth.