Google Shopping Incites 2nd Amendment Row by Removing Guns from Search

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Google Shopping Incites 2nd Amendment Row by Removing Guns from Search
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Google announced back in May that Google Product Search will be replaced by Google Shopping, meaning a number of changes would be on the horizon for Google’s dedicated corner for online merchants. However, Google recently sent a letter to merchants of firearms and weapons that have listings on Google Shopping telling them that the sale of weapons will not be permitted through Google. “We do not allow the promotion or sale of weapons and any related products such as ammunitions or accessory kits on Google Shopping,” the Google Shopping Team wrote. “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.”

Do you feel that Google is entitled to make these sorts of decisions and prohibit the sale of certain items on Google Shopping? Who should dictate what’s acceptable and unacceptable to sell on the site? Tell us what you think in the comments.

Naturally, proponents of the 2nd Amendment are up in arms (hah) about Google’s decision to limit or prohibit the sale of firearms through its Shopping site. A petition has been posted on change.com that implores Google to “not interfere with our 2nd amendment rights…” and so far has collected over 300 signatures.

In light of Google’s announcement, searching for weapon-related terms on Google Shopping reflects this policy as you will no longer get any results from most of those searches.

For example, a search for “bullets”:

Google Shopping Bullets

Or “ammo”:

Google Shopping Ammo

While specific terms related to firearms produce exactly zero results, strangely, a generic search of “guns” gave me millions of results (and these were pretty serious guns, too):

Google Shopping Guns

Additionally, I received some more shopping results when I searched for knives, arrows, crossbows, grenades (that do simulated explosions) (which actually included grenade launchers in the results, as well!), and uzi. Even searching for the plainly generic “weapons” gave me a few gun sights and at least one gun. So it doesn’t look like Google has exactly put a wholesale ban on the sale of firearms or firearm-related accessories (or other explosive stuff) – at least for now. Who knows if these results will get cleaned up so as to not offer any sorts of weaponry as the full implementation of Google Shopping takes place this fall, or if merchants’ weapon wares will be forcibly removed by Google should the sellers not comply.

As an aside, Google’s limitation on what kind of weapons you can buy isn’t limited to things you shoot. A search for non-lethal weapons like “stun gun” returned zero results, which makes this all the more confusing. To see the full list of what weapons are prohibited from promotion and which are acceptable, take a look at Google’s Advertising Policies, which are allegedly the guidelines being used for Google Shopping now.

While gun enthusiasts will, and perhaps logically so, take umbrage to Google’s removal of all weaponry listings on Google Shopping, Google isn’t really beholden to any consumer expectations. It’s a corporate business that makes whatever decisions it wants and we the consumers are simply using it by choice. Google is no more required to allow a space for merchants of bullets or shotguns to sell their products on Google Shopping than is a flea market required to allow anybody to set up a table and sell baseball cards if those flea market owners (for whatever reason) don’t agree with the values of baseball. If the private market you’re trying to use to promote your business doesn’t like you, you have little choice but go somewhere else.

More, Google isn’t prohibiting the search listings of weapons; this only (so far as I know) applies to Google Shopping. It’s still just as easy to go to google.com and search for “9mm ammo” and – presto – find many listings of websites that are selling this particular ammunition.

However, I anticipate that not being able to search and purchase weapons on Google Search will affect merchants more than consumers. This will relegate sellers to compete among general Google search rankings instead of being able to minimize the field of competition at Google Shopping. As Google says itself on the Google Shopping (née Product Search) page, “Product Search connects your products to the shoppers searching for them, helping you drive traffic and sales to your store.” If anything, especially if you’re an exclusively online vendor of guns or other weapons, I’d imagine that the diminished site traffic to a business’ page would be more immediately incendiary than Google Search simply no longer allowing the commercial sale of weapons. If anybody wanted to make some kind of legal case about this issue, I tend to think that a more convincing argument could be made that Google Shopping’s new policy harms small businesses than it diminishes citizens’ right to bear arms.

In the end, though, the plausibility of taking this charge to court doesn’t seem favorable because, as mentioned, this is Google’s world and we just live in it. Google was asked for comment regarding the policy change to Google Shopping and the subsequent petition of the decision but it has yet to reply as of this time.

For what it’s worth, Bing Shopping returned beaucoup results for “ammo” (and “9mm ammo”), “bullets,” and “shotgun.” Maybe Bing and Microsoft should start touting their gun-friendly search results among the NRA so as to gain a little more on Google’s lead in search?

Is this more of a free market issue or a 2nd Amendment issue? If you’re an online merchant that will be affected by Google Shopping’s policy change, do you plan to try selling your products elsewhere (like Bing or eBay)? Do you think this is a bad sign for business owners who use Google Shopping? Please share your reactions below.

[HT Outdoor Hub.]

Google Shopping Incites 2nd Amendment Row by Removing Guns from Search
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  • H Coleman

    So DISAGREE with Google on their Gun stand but accept Google thinks they are above everyone and everything. So all I can do is try to use google as little as possible. I already use their “wrench” to delete all searches — but they state they KEEP Everyones searches for 180 days no matter what!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • http://www.myvotes.org Tominguez

      Totally agree, Bing and ask.com are getting pretty good, good for you!

  • Craig

    Censorship of a different form. Google should be ashamed and the American people should not embrace or support Google in their decision. The 2nd Amendment is a right of the people, and not a manipulative issue by Google or any entity.

  • http://ask.com Thomas Hall

    Google decides to drop fire arm sells, I will no longer be using goole. I think google is infrenging on our constitution.

  • http://www.buysantabarbarawine.com marco walters

    Google also sent a letter to all companies who having been uploading wine products to Google Shopping that, as of July 1st, we could no longer sell any wine or beer products through Google Shopping. I’ve been uploading our wine database of 300-500 wines each week since “Google Base” (Shopping) first started.

    I tried changing the category to “juice” or “beverage” and the upload was accepted but none of the wine products show up in Google Shopping.

    Do a search within Google Shopping for “pinot” or “syrah” or “wine” and you will now only find a couple of paid AdWords – but no products display for purchase.

    All this to say, there’s been a major change and it’s not just weapons that Google Shopping stopped featuring. Besides, “wine” or “beer”, I don’t know what other products are prohibited now but I’m guessing that there are other categories.

    It was a great – free – service while it lasted and gave us a lot of traffic and sales.

  • http://www.healthandcommonsense.com/maini.html Karen Wolfe

    I do not sell ammunition on my website. I do sell things that the ‘powers that seem to be’ have tried many times to get ‘regulated’. Vitamins, minerals, etc which have a fantastic safety record compared to what passes for health care products. (Drugs) When a supplement is ‘pulled’ off the market it is because (and this rarely happens) something has gone wrong in the processing or packaging. When a drug is pulled, it is that more than the expected number of patients died because of it. Google is succumbing to pressure from liberals who struggle to make us all toe the line and stay in the bounds of political correctness. The second amendment definitely is about protection from the out of control forces that seek to control our freedoms. This is apparent to a 6th grader when they read the constitution. Google is succumbing and I am sorry to see it. Maybe they just have too much power.

  • MNM

    I suppose Google may have the right to ban firearms, but the real question is their motive. It’s understandable for an establishment to be uncomfortable with guns on company property, but why would any company be interested in banning the intenet sale of products for which the ownership of is defined as a Constitutional right?

    Sounds like a case of corporate executives using business influence to forward their own personal and/or political ideologies.

    Businesses should be about neutrality and their leaders should base such decision on legality, leaving politics and ideology completely out of it. Companies thoughout the U.S. shun political and religious conversations in their offices (mostly likely Google too), then turn around and make policies, such as this, based on the ideologies of the leaders.

    However, the media and the citizens share some of the blame for their silence on this and similar matters.

    • MNM

      After posting my comment, I saw where other people were advocating a switch to Google’s competitors as an expression of discontentment.

      Congralutations to anyone willing to put their money where their beliefs are.

      I switched during the last election when I learned that Google divulged their lack of neutrality by joining the campaign trail.

      It seems that the companies which break neutrality are always the largest and most ingrained into our lives, thus making it a sacrifice to express our displeasure with lack of patronage. But, it is the most influential form of expression to a company, and a sacrifice the citizens must be willing to make in order to keep powerful leaders from abusing their positions.

      The bravery of business leaders to merge politics with business can be measured by their balance sheets; with prosperity comes such bravery, conversely doth the bravery subside in conjunction with the prosperity.

  • Dale

    Google caved on 1st amendment in China and now attacking the 2nd amendment in America. I think we can see who the evil empire is really. I know my boycot of all things google won’t hurt google, but hopefully enough will join me to send google a message to not mess with the US Contitution

  • Lee

    I believe that it is well within the right of Google to list, or in this case, ban anything they like.Contrary to popular belief it is still a free country and I prefer it that way.
    Because they have stopped listing guns for whatever reason, I will stop using there services and will switch my browser to someone else which is well within my rights. If enough people feel the same way and do the same thing then perhaps they’ll get the point. (doubtful)

  • Lee

    Oh… one more thing I forgot to mention. I believe we should stop handing out welfare checks and start handing out guns. That would level the playing field. If everyone was packing heat nut jobs would probably think twice about entering a public place and shooting it up!

  • JT


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