August 18th, 2018

E-Commerce Company Restricts Online Firearms Sales

Shopify ban ecommerce shopping cart anti-gun Marksman terms of service

Sad to say, here’s another example of a large tech enterprise bullying the firearms industry. Some very large credit card processors have refused to process firearms transactions, and we’ve heard reports of business insurers dropping policies for gunsmiths and gun accessory producers, or raising rates by as much as 700%. This is not a good time to be a gun retailer or gun manufacturer. These issues are part of larger battle, with major media, tech, and financial institutions targeting the firearms industry.

Many firearms retailers and ranges may be impacted by a new “Acceptable Use Policy” from Shopify. This policy blocks a wide variety of firearms products from online stores. Many mag-fed semi-auto rifles can no longer be sold, and unfinished lower receivers are also on the “prohibited products” list.

Shopify ban ecommerce shopping cart anti-gun Marksman terms of service

Report by NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA)
Spike’s Tactical, a Florida-based firearms manufacturer and retailer, is just one of the businesses who received an alarming email from its online store management platform, Shopify — a company used by more than 600,000 merchants [for] marketing, inventory management, payments, and shipping.

Cole Leleux, General Manager of Spike’s Tactical, said a three-sentence email from Shopify was the only notice Spike’s Tactical received alerting them to a new change in Shopify’s “Acceptable Use Policy” that will now “restrict the sale of certain firearms and firearm parts.”

According to an article by Ammoland.com, some of the new arbitrarily amended rules in Shopify’s policy “now include banning the sale of semi-automatic firearms that have an ability to accept a detachable magazine and are capable of accepting more than 10 rounds. Additionally, unfinished lower receivers are also prohibited[.] Most of Spike’s Tactical’ s products include AR-15 parts and full rifles, which would fall under those new restrictions.”

“It’s just crazy to go from no firearm policy to no guns overnight,” said Leleux, “We’ve been sitting back quietly while Google stops us from advertising — we can’t advertise on Facebook, we can’t advertise on Instagram. We are a legal business in this country and I can’t use the most popular platforms to advertise.”

Aside from how Shopify’s new policy will affect his business, Leleux says what bothers him most is the hypocrisy… Leleux says Shopify assured him it was firearm-friendly and he would have no problems. Shopify’s about-face came after Leleux spent $100,000 and signed the contract.”

Gun Shops Also Impacted by Shopify Policy Change
Shopify has also restricted a Washington state gun shop and range. Canada-based Shopify recently notified The Marksman, an indoor gun range and retail shop in Puyallup (WA), that it must remove a number of products from its online store, including semi-auto rifles. Shopify’s new Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) no longer allows the sale of many popular (and legal) firearms sold by The Marksman.

The Marksman’s Mike Grabowski explains: “The Marksman has been in business for over 38 years and has always enjoyed great community support by the public and Law Enforcement. We provide a safe place for our community to shoot and learn about safe firearms handling. Over the years we have educated … thousands of people on how to safely handle and use firearms.”

Shopify ban ecommerce shopping cart anti-gun Marksman terms of service

Grabowski says Shopify’s policy change was unwarranted and unexpected: “When we entered into our relationship with Shopify they expressed no concern about the products we sell. We have spent thousands of dollars building and maintaining our e-commerce presence, as well as contributing to Shopify’s income. It is unacceptable to us that they now decided that they don’t like guns and therefore will proceed to terminate their relationship with [us] and many other firearms-related companies.”

Editor’s Comment: It will become increasingly difficult for Americans to exercise their Second Amendment rights, and for hunters and target shooters to pursue their hobbies, if firearms-related enterprises are denied the ability to sell products, collect invoices, insure their facilities, or communicate with the public.

This is a worrisome trend. The example of Shopify and The Marksman is just the tip of the iceberg. Other gun-related businesses are now facing “black-balling” by big companies that handle banking, insurance, and payment processing.

Permalink Gunsmithing, News, Tactical 3 Comments »
June 10th, 2018

YouTube Terminates Brownells YouTube Channel — Then Relents

Brownells youtube channel termination lock-out ban kill videos

UPDATE: At approximately 6:00 pm CT, the Brownells YouTube Channel was restored. We don’t know why or how — but apparently protests from Brownells customers many have played a part in getting YouTube to relent. Brownells just issued this statement via Facebook:

Brownells facebook page restored terminated censorship

PREVIOUSLY…
The Brownells YouTube channel has been terminated (shut down) without warning or notice from either YouTube or its parent company, Google. On June 9, 2018, at roughly 2:00 am, the Brownells channel was pulled from YouTube. This removed ALL Brownells YouTube content, including videos that cover firearms safety, hunting skills, firearms maintenance, and marksmanship. YouTube didn’t simply block Brownells’ gun sales-related videos — it shut down the entire Brownells channel, which had offered nearly 1800 helpful videos. The Brownells channel had acquired over 67,000 subscribers since its launch in January 2007.

Brownells youtube channel termination lock-out ban kill videos

History of YouTube Policies on Firearms Content
No specific reason for the Brownells shut-down was provided by YouTube, but this is part of a policy shift by YouTube. For quite some time, YouTube has been de-monitizing firearms-centric YouTube channels. As a result, gun video producers no longer receive advertising revenues, or receive a fraction of what they were once paid. Then in late March, YouTube announced tough new policies limiting the type of firearms content allowed. Gun content producers feared YouTube’s new policies might doom their channels. With the Brownells ban, it appears those fears were correct…

Ars Technica reported: “YouTube is placing more restrictions on weapons-related videos, focusing on guns with new, forthcoming policy changes. According to a Bloomberg report, YouTube intends to ban videos that ‘promote or link to websites selling firearms and accessories’, including bump stocks, beginning this April. The new policy will also prohibit instructional videos that detail how to build firearms. YouTube took similar action after the Las Vegas shooting last year by banning gun-modification tutorials.

‘We routinely make updates and adjustments to our enforcement guidelines across all of our policies,’ a YouTube representative said in a statement to Bloomberg. ‘While we’ve long prohibited the sale of firearms, we recently notified creators of updates we will be making around content promoting the sale or manufacture of firearms and their accessories’.”

Current YouTube Policies on Firearms Content are displayed below. (Read More).

Policies on Content Featuring Firearms

YouTube prohibits certain kinds of content featuring firearms. Specifically, we don’t allow content that:

Intends to sell firearms or certain firearms accessories through direct sales (e.g., private sales by individuals) or links to sites that sell these items. These accessories include but may not be limited to accessories that enable a firearm to simulate automatic fire or convert a firearm to automatic fire (e.g., bump stocks, gatling triggers, drop-in auto sears, conversion kits), and high capacity magazines (i.e., magazines or belts carrying more than 30 rounds).

Provides instructions on manufacturing a firearm, ammunition, high capacity magazine, homemade silencers/suppressors, or certain firearms accessories such as those listed above. This also includes instructions on how to convert a firearm to automatic or simulated automatic firing capabilities.

Shows users how to install the above-mentioned accessories or modifications.

Permalink - Videos, Gunsmithing, News 13 Comments »
June 28th, 2012

Google Shopping Site Blocks Results of Gun-Related Searches

Along with its main search engine, Google Inc. operates the Google Shopping web portal (www.google.com/shopping), where visitors can search for products offered by tens of thousands of online merchants. Google Shopping works great, unless you happen to be looking for gun stuff. You see, Google recently instituted a new policy blocking Google Shopping search results for many firearms-related products and accessories.

For example, searches for “ammunition”, “.308″, and “rifle” yield no results. This subject-matter-based filtering also stymies searches for prominent gun-makers, component suppliers, and gun accessory vendors. Google Shopping searches for “Beretta”, “Brownells”, “Glock”, “Nosler”, and “Winchester” all yielded this “fail” message: “Your search [term here] did not match any shopping results”. Google Shopping is even blocking results for “Leupold” — yet Leupold only makes optics. Whether you call this “filtering” or “black-balling”, the fact remains that Google Shopping is making judgments about what products (and vendors) shoppers will be allowed to view.

Google Shopping Portal

IMPORTANT: The firearm-related filtering ONLY is in place (for now) on the Google Shopping portal. The main Google search engine (www.google.com) still allows you to search for any keyword or search phrase. That means you can search for “rifle”, or “Glock”, or “Winchester” on the main Google search engine and you WILL get results.

Google Shopping Site Search Term Test

We did a quick sample of search terms on the Google Shopping site, testing a few dozen common terms for guns and firearms accessories. There were some surprising results, and many logical inconsistencies. “Rifle Shooting” was blocked, but “Shooting” returned results. “Reload” was blocked, but “Reloading” was allowed. Some filtering seems arbitrary. “Winchester” was blocked, but “Remington” worked. “Hornady” is blocked, but “RCBS” can be used. “Brownells” was blocked, but “Sinclair International” yielded results. “Nosler” is blocked, but “Sierra” was allowed. “Leupold” and “Weaver” are both blocked, but “Bushnell” and “Zeiss” are unrestricted. And spelling makes a difference. “Anschütz” is blocked, but “Anschutz” can be used. “Hollow Point” is blocked, yet “Hollowpoint” (as one word) is OK. You figure that out….

It’s hard to guess which search terms will work and which won’t, except you can be sure that most keyword phrases which include the terms “ammo”, “rifle”, or “firearm” will be censored. Likewise, most search terms based on cartridge types (Rimfire, 45 ACP etc.) or bullet diameters (5.56, 30 Caliber, 7mm etc.) are blocked. But you can still search for “gun”, oddly enough. And this editor can’t fathom why I can search for Bushnell, Zeiss, Swarovski, and Nikon, but not “Leupold”.

Sample Search Terms Blocked (No Results Returned)
5.56, .308, 30 Caliber, 7mm, 9mm, 1911, Ammo, Ammo Can, Ammunition, Anschütz, AR15, Barrel, Black Powder, Beretta, Brownells, Browning, Creedmoor, Firearm, Glock, Gunstock, Hollow Point, Hornady, Leupold, Magazine, Muzzle, Muzzleloader, Optics, Pistol, Reload, Rifle, Rifle Scope, Rimfire, Rifle Stock, Savage, Sig-Sauer, Shooting, Weaver, Winchester.

Sample Search Terms Allowed (Results Returned)
Airgun, Anschutz, Ballistics, Barrel, Benchrest, Bullet, Bushnell, Cartridge Brass, Gun, Gunpowder, Hollowpoint, Hunter, Hunting, Marksman, Press, Rangefinder, RCBS, Reloading, Remington, Scope, Shooter, Shooting, Shooting target, Sierra, Sinclair International, Spotting Scope, Stock, Target, Trigger, Zeiss.

IMPORTANT: Keep in mind that this was NOT an exhaustive test of search terms, and Google could change or alter its “block list” at any time.

To explain its content-filtering system, Google Shopping recently sent an email to vendors around the country. As received by Hamlund Tactical and then posted on the web, that email declared:

Dear Merchant,

We’re writing to let you know about some upcoming changes to the product listings you submit to Google. As we recently announced, we are starting to transition our shopping experience to a commercial model that builds on Product Listing Ads. This new shopping experience is called Google Shopping. As part of this transition, we’ll begin to enforce a set of new policies for Google Shopping in the coming weeks. A new list of the allowed, restricted, and prohibited products on Google Shopping is available on our new policy page: http://www.google.com/appserve/mkt/ApI7UWRj6OCZpd.

Based on a review of the products you’re currently submitting, it appears that some of the content in your Merchant Center account, [Vendor Name], will be affected by these policy changes. In particular we found that your products may violate the following policies:

Weapons
When we make this change, Google will disapprove all of the products identified as being in violation of policies. We ask that you make any necessary changes to your feeds and/or site to comply, so that your products can continue to appear on Google Shopping.

To help you through this new set of policies and how to comply with them, we would like to give you some specific suggestions regarding the changes needed to keep your offers running on Google Shopping.

Weapons
As highlighted on our new policy page http://www.google.com/appserve/mkt/ApI7UWRj6OCZpd, in order to comply with the Google Shopping policies you need to comply first with the AdWords policies http://www.google.com/appserve/mkt/StQ08jAzM4fVtG. We do not allow the promotion or sale of weapons and any related products such as ammunitions or accessory kits on Google Shopping. In order to comply with our new policies, please remove any weapon-related products from your data feed and then re-submit your feed in the Merchant Center. For more information on this policy please visit http://www.google.com/appserve/mkt/GbBNIGHOribLzf.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, News 17 Comments »
March 2nd, 2012

FREE Downloadable Classic Shooting and Firearms Books

Free Classic Shooting BooksIn today’s economy, Free is good. Here’s a list of older shooting books that can be downloaded for FREE from Google Books. This list, created by German Salazar, includes many classic treatises on marksmanship that still have value for today’s competitive shooters. In addition, we’ve included illustrated firearm histories, such as Townsend Whelen’s fascinating book, The American Rifle, and The Gun and its Development (9th Ed.), by William Wellington Greener.

In the list below, the title link will take you to the Google Books page for each book. You can read the entire book online, or you can download it to your computer as a PDF file* and save it (or print it). You can also create your own Google Library and save the books there for access from any computer.

The Bullet’s Flight From Powder to Target, Franklin W. Mann, 1909, 384 pages.

Irish Riflemen in America, Sir Arthur Blennerhassett Leech, 1875, 216 pages.

The American Rifle, Townsend Whelen, 1918, 637 pages.

Suggestions to Military Riflemen, Townsend Whelen, 1909, 243 pages.

Modern Rifle Shooting From the American Standpoint, W. G. Hudson, 1903, 155 pages.

Gun Development GreenerThe Gun and its Development, William Wellington Greener, 1907 (9th Ed.) 846 pages.

Manual for Rifle Practice: Including Suggestions for Practice at Long Range, George Wood Wingate, 1879, 303 pages.

How I Became a Crack Shot — With Hints to Beginners, W. Milton Farrow, 1882, 204 pages.

Cartridge Manufacture, Douglas Thomas Hamilton, 1916, 167 pages.

Description and Rules for the Management of the United States Rifle, Caliber .30, Model of 1903, United States Army Ordnance Dept., 1904 (5th rev. 1914), 72 pages.

Springfield 1903 rifle U.S. Army

CLICK HERE for more FREE, downloadable Classic Shooting Titles.

*To download a book, first click the title from the list above. Then, once you’re at the Google book site, look for the icon that looks like a gear in the upper right-hand corner. Click that and a pull-down menu will appear. Select “Download PDF” from the menu — this will bring up a security question to make sure you are a human. Respond to the security question correctly and your normal download prompt will appear. Choose a location to hold your new e-book, and click “save”.
Permalink - Articles, News 4 Comments »
June 16th, 2009

New 'Google Squared' Search Delivers Tables of Data

Google has launched an innovative, web-based search function that delivers a wealth of information in data-rich tables. Now when you search you can get more than just a list of websites. Called Google Squared, the new system delivers a collection of search results in a chart (table) format. The chart will contain a variety of different clickable entries, such as article titles, photos, product descriptions, and prices. Google Squared returns a huge amount of information and data from a single search.

Link: www.Google.com/squared

While Google Squared can search virtually any topic from Astrophysics to Zoology, we’ve found it can be very useful when researching firearms subjects or searching for shooting products. Shown below are the results of a search for “Spotting Scope”. By default, data is grouped in six columns. However, Google Squared allows you to add other data columns, and Google can even “intelligently” suggest choices for additional columns. In this example, Google suggested Eye Relief, Magnification, Exit Pupil, Lens Coating, and Prism System — all important optical parameters. That’s pretty smart! You can also delete any column of data if it’s not needed.

Spotting Scopes

Google Squared can also be used to research a particular product or do price comparison searches. Shown below are the Google Squared results for “RCBS Chargemaster”:

RCBS Chargemaster

Google Squared is still in the development stages, but it promises to be a useful tool for veteran web users. Give it a try, and see how it performs for you.

Permalink New Product, News 1 Comment »