Google, a company that should know better than to censor the flow of online information, has chosen to ban search results related to firearms and other products it deems not “family safe” in its Google Shopping function. Until recently, gun-related products appeared just like other products in search results, giving shoppers a powerful price-comparison tool. But not anymore.
Google’s new, anti-gun policy, announced May 31, assigns a family status to all products. Products in the “non-family safe” or adult categories are blocked from Google Shopping and include guns, ammunition and knives, vehicles, tobacco and traffic devices such as radar scramblers.
As one blogger said, “Shame on Google,” for blocking information related to firearms—a constitutionally-protected product and, we might add, a product that millions of Americans rely on to protect their families.
NSSF is attempting to reach Google to urge the company to reconsider this discriminatory policy that is hostile to the Second Amendment. We also plan to remind the company and emphasize that firearms cannot be purchased online and be transferred directly to the purchaser. A firearm that is purchased online must be physically sent from one federal firearms licensee to another, with the latter conducting the mandatory FBI background check on the purchaser (represented in person) and then transferring the firearm only after the purchaser has passed background check.
The company’s new, anti-gun policy has rightly caused firearms owners to reconsider having Google be their search engine of choice. According to reports, the search engine Bing.com, for example, currently does not block firearms from appearing in shopping results.
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.
Google’s restrictive policy comes at a time when retailers and other online information resources have increased their content about firearms because of consumer demand. Fortunately, consumers have other online services to turn to instead of Google for their firearms information.
We all know the censorship challenges Google has faced in China and other countries hostile toward freedom of speech, just as we know of the company’s admirable efforts to overcome those challenges. The question arises: How can a company that supports the First Amendment with such zeal be so hostile to the Second Amendment?