YouTube bans gun modding tutorials after Las Vegas shooting

But it may be too little, too late.

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Screenshot / YouTube
Screenshot / YouTube

Following the deadly massacre in Las Vegas last week, YouTube has begun banning videos that depict tutorials on gun modification. According to a YouTube spokesperson, this was an expansion of an existing policy in the wake of the Vegas shooting to prohibit videos that demonstrate "how to convert firearms to make them fire more quickly." The spokesperson said the company has "long had a policy against harmful and dangerous content." That includes videos that are trying to sell or promote firearms, as well as conversion devices and a device called a bump stock.

Bump stocks were attached to 12 of the rifles found in the Las Vegas gunman's hotel room. The modification enables semi-automatic weapons to fire faster. The National Rifle Association said recently that it would support a restriction on bump stocks, but that it opposed an outright ban.

After the shooting, YouTube said it took a closer look at the videos in question (that teach how to adapt semi-automatics) and expanded its policy to cover such content. But it hasn't been as quick to take the offending clips down. A search for "bump stock" on the site returns hundreds of thousands of results with titles such as "home made bump fire stock ... for less than $20" and "Upgraded Rifle Efficiency How-to Part 1."

It's important to note that most of the recent videos on the subject are from news channels discussing the role of bump stocks in recent shootings and whether they should be banned. Still, there are plenty of explainer and tutorial listings that haven't been taken down, and that sheer number could be what's causing the delay. YouTube reacts when clips are flagged as violating its community guidelines, and its global review team evaluates and removes offending content. To make a dent in the pile of videos it has to remove, YouTube will probably need to rely on its users to proactively flag such media, and that will take time.

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