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Google Shopping Bans ‘Gun’ Searches, But Not For Machetes, Pipe Bomb Materials, Rocket Launchers

Try searching for anything with the word ‘gun’ in it on Google Shopping, and you’ll get no results. Search for pipe bomb ingredients, though, and bingo.


On Twitter early this morning, Ryan Fitz flagged something weird: Google Shopping returns no results for any search containing the word “gun.”

After some of my own searching, I found that Google Shopping would return results for search terms in which “gun” is a longer part of a word, such as “Gunsmoke” and “The Last Gunslinger.” But absolutely nothing for any search containing “gun.” Not even toy and recreational guns such as Airsoft.

Included in this “gun” term whiteout are books, artists, movies, and songs with “gun” in the title, such as “Annie, Get Your Gun.”

Also blocked: “The Gun Book for Girls.”

Guns ‘n Roses? Blocked.

Tom Cruise’s smash hit “Top Gun”? No can see.

Also blocked: “The Guns of August,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning 2004 history of World War I.

“The Guns of Navarone” is a novel that has been made into a classic movie. Both blocked.

What isn’t blocked, however, are plenty of other “instruments of war.” Such as battle axes, hand grenades, and rocket launchers.

Also not blocked from Google Shopping searches are more, um, creative weapons such as an assassin’s blade, crossbow, compound bow, and machete.

Lastly, I’m told that these two items below are the main ingredients for a pipe bomb. No, I really don’t know anything about that, and I’m not doing any searches on it because I don’t want the FBI at my door. Guys, I’m a mom with little kids, I have no wish to harm anyone. Okay? Thanks.

At any rate, those reported ingredients are freely available on Google Shopping. Oh, by the way, “smokeless powder” is another word for “gunpowder.”

Notice not just the disparities here in the wide availability of instruments of suffering Google Shopping makes available, but also that it’s illegal to buy a gun online unless you have it shipped to a licensed firearms dealer, who must carry out legal background check procedures before you’re allowed to pick it up. So it’s unclear what Google’s aims are here in banning searches for glue guns, Airsoft, paintball, and the like. Unless they really can’t tell the difference between Airsoft and a real gun, or don’t think the difference matters.