Here's a breathless headline from Breitbart: Google to Block Firearm, Ammunition, Gun Accessory Ads. Regarding a recently proposed company policy change, the site suggested on Friday that "beginning in September" the Internet giant will make these changes. Sort of. The report overlooks some important details, and perhaps the silliest aspect of the new policy: It would target toy guns.
First, as pro-gun blog The Truth About Guns points out, "they're proposed plans." That's it. Nothing set in stone yet. And, "the policy only affects Google AdWords." Although the advertising service is large – it draws in billions of dollars and is the company's main source of revenue – it simply amounts to the sponsored links at the top of the page. You will still be able to search "firearms" and find links to sites for businesses that are advertising and selling these beautiful, Second Amendment-fulfilling tools.
Furthermore, Google AdWords already blocks ads for guns, gun parts and hardware, and ammunition. They've done so for a few years. So, the Breitbart report tells us nothing new.
The great silliness that was overlooked is that Google's proposed change would broaden its ban to include any
functional devices that appear to discharge a projectile at high velocity, whether for sport, self-defense, or combat (Note that we err on the side of caution and apply this policy to sporting or recreational guns that can cause serious harm if misused, or that appear to be real guns.)
Examples: Handguns, rifles, shotguns, hunting guns, functioning antique guns, airsoft guns, paintball guns, bb guns. (emphasis added in bold)
That's right. In an effort to "help keep people safe both online and offline," the world's largest search engine wants to shield your eyes from seeing online billboards for things "that cause damage, harm, or injury" or even just look like they might pop out a plastic pellet. The number of serious injuries that faux guns inflict seems to be so low that they're more a testament to human stupidity than product unsafety. The only airsoft-related death in recent memory happened last year, when cops filled a 13-year-old California boy with seven real bullets because they mistook his airsoft weapon for a real one.
Of course, Google is a private company and it can institute whatever absurd policies it wants to alienate millions of American gun enthusiasts and protect everyone else from seeing fake firearms for sale. However, users can hit (or, dare I say, discharge a digital projectile at) Google's moneymaker by installing AdBlocker to their browser so they don't have to see any AdWord advertisements.