A few years ago, I tried to sell a rifle, an M-1 Garand, in the newspaper (my state permits private sales). I placed the ad, but within hours, received an email saying that The Register-Guard would not run it. Their reasoning: you cannot sell an “assault weapon” in the newspaper. While my state has no prohibition on so-called “assault weapons”, those who have ever seen a Garand would know that it has none of the characteristics of one. It has no high-capacity magazine, no flash suppressor nor a pistol grip. Furthermore, it was not banned in the stringent “assault weapons ban” that haunted the 90′s. So, I asked the editor, why it had been banned. The man replied,
“We don’t use the assault weapons ban classification to decide what is and what is not an assault weapon. If we don’t know what a gun is that someone is selling, we look it up and if it looks really scary, like it could ‘mow somebody down’, we prohibit it.”
I’m not kidding. This is what passes as reasoned thought to the gun-haters in this country. Now, Google is joining others in being the gatekeepers of access to firearm dealers.
Google, whose mission statement claims it’s purpose is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” has banned the sale of weapons and ammunition within its shopping center. Thus, earning the ire of firearm enthusiasts and firearm dealers who find the irony of Google, a company who supposedly champions online freedom, prohibiting the sale of lawful items.
In an email sent to internet firearm dealers, Google wrote,
“We’ve given much thought to our stance on this content, as well as the potential effect our policy decision could have on our Merchants, and we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you.”
Throughout this email, however, Google does not discuss why the decision was made. Certainly there are regulations in many states regarding online sales, but a blanket policy that aims to restrict gun sales across the board makes no sense. Fundamentally, at the heart of gun-hating politics is the lingering, erroneous belief that guns somehow are, inherently dangerous. As the bumper sticker says, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” It’s trite, but absolutely true.
In response to this ridiculousness, National Shooting Sports Foundation senior vice president Larry Keane wrote,
“Though Google Shopping works to aid commerce by making it easy to research products and pricing, Google’s new policy raises barriers to one of the country’s strongest economic trends—the robust sales of firearms and ammunition, one of the true bright spots in the U.S. economy. Firearms and ammunition sales are at all-time highs, accounting for a 30.6 percent increase in jobs from 2008 through 2011 and an overall economic impact of nearly $32 billion to the nation.”
As we see the correlative effect high per capita gun ownership has on crime deterrence, and in the wake of the 1990′s hysteria regarding gun violence, we are seeing society embrace more and more a “tolerance” of a right that was already granted to citizens. However, as more states pass concealed carry laws and Heller and McDonald have emerged triumphant in the courts, we are seeing calls from the left to stop guns at the source; the new wave of gun control is to restrict access to their purchase.
Google is built upon a platform of the exchange of information. It is built on, for want of a better term, freedom and access to information. When it functions as a gatekeeper as to what people can and cannot buy, it is not only hypocritical, it sets a dangerous precedent and serves as an affront to basic liberty.
For reference, Bing.com has no such restrictions.