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Saturday, July 5, 2014

Google’s War on Guns

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While its corporate motto is "Don't be evil," its critics might say "Don't be Google." And this is especially true now that Google is saying "Don't buy guns."

The search giant has announced that, starting in September, it will ban advertising of firearms, ammunition, and gun paraphernalia. As Google Support writes on its "Dangerous Products or Services" page, "Our policy: We want to help keep people safe both online and offline, so we don't allow the promotion of some products or services that cause damage, harm, or injury." Consequently, the ad ban will include, explains the company:

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
Any part or component that's necessary to the function of a gun or intended for attachment to a gun
Examples: Gun scopes, ammunition, ammunition clips or belts
But it isn't just that, to Google, love is not a warm gun. It will also ban ads relating to other weapons, such as tactical, fighting, and military knives; throwing axes; throwing stars; brass knuckles; and crossbows. So we can now all rest assured that the next throwing-star massacre will be averted.

This move by Google is the latest example of an effort to advance gun control via non-legislative means, a movement born of the fact that anti-Second Amendment sentiment has not followed the U.S.' overall leftward lurch, becoming noticeably less prevalent during the last 25 years. In fact, ever since former vice president Al Gore's 2000 presidential election loss to George W. Bush — which many observers partially attributed to Gore's anti-Second Amendment positions — Democrat politicians' support for gun control has been muted. And when they do occasionally advocate it, the consequences can be severe. Last year, for instance, two Colorado legislators were recalled and one was forced to resign after helping to pass gun restrictions in their state.

So different tactics have been embraced. Former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg and others attempted to damage firearms manufacturers through lawsuits, but this was blunted legislatively by the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. More recently we learned of the exercise of executive power, with the Department of Justice using "Operation Choke Point" to compel banks and third-party payment processors to stop doing business with companies dealing in guns and their accessories. And Google's move will have a similar effect, hobbling the firearms industry's capacity to engage in commerce. 

How effective can this be? Consider that as with "Xeroxing," the genericized term "googling" says about the tech giant's dominance what statistics confirm. Forbes estimated last year that the corporation accounted for 40 percent of all Internet traffic, while wrote, "Google earned more than half of the $8.8 billion advertisers worldwide spent on mobile internet ads last year, helping propel the company to take in nearly one-third of all digital ad dollars spent globally." The company also accounts for 65 percent of all worldwide searches. And note that if only the United States is considered, Google's dominance should be greater still.

In other words, if the three most important factors in business are location, location, and location, Google would the Miracle Mile strip. And being banned from it is perhaps akin to being relegated to one-horse towns... ​..Finish reading​