Who owns AR15.com? Gun website 'booted from GoDaddy' for allegedly promoting and encouraging violence

GoDaddy, the American internet domain registrar and web hosting company, did not reportedly offer any specific examples of the gun website's transgressions


                            Who owns AR15.com? Gun website 'booted from GoDaddy' for allegedly promoting and encouraging violence
The homepage of the AR15 website (Screengrab)

On Monday, January 11, the Twitter account for AR15.com, a website that claims to be “the world's largest firearm community,” announced that the site was down because it had been “booted from GoDaddy”. The Twitter account announced further that “The site will return at ar15-backup.com," asking regular visitors of the forum to “standby for more information”.

Following that, the Twitter account announced that while some folks could still connect to their servers from their normal domain, “that's going to end eventually. DNS will eventually stop looking up the correct location of the server.”



 



 

The American conservative online news magazine, The Federalist, spoke to the owners of the website, who said, “On Monday, January 11, 2021, I received notice from our site registrar that AR15.com had violated their terms of service and that AR15.com would be shut down immediately. The registrar’s decision to de-platform AR15.com was final and no method to appeal was offered. It remains unclear specifically what content allegedly violated the registrar’s terms of service.”

As per them, GoDaddy claimed that the site “both promotes and encourages violence,” but did not offer any specific examples. Following that, they offered the website 24 hours to relocate its business.

Who owns AR15.com?

The Twitter account for the website claims that it “has been family owned and operated since 1996”. As per the website, which was still accessible at the time of writing this report, AR15.com originated in 1996 as a mailing list for firearm enthusiasts. The website came into existence as the numbers grew. As per The Federalist, Juan Avila is the president and co-founder of the gun site. The website also lists Edward Avila and Jorge Avila as site administrators. 

As per posting on the website, in April 2020, Edward Avila passed away after a prolonged fight with cancer at the age of 49. His brother Juan wrote in his obituary that Edward started the mailing list when he left the military, adding that as the years passed, the website “changed from a firearm site to a collection of patriots with a shared love of this country and what our founding fathers died for”.

Members of the public shoot AR-15 rifles and other weapons at a shooting range during the “Rod of Iron Freedom Festival” on October 12, 2019, in Greeley, Pennsylvania. The two-day event, which is organized by Kahr Arms/Tommy Gun Warehouse and Rod of Iron Ministries, has billed itself as a “second amendment rally and celebration of freedom, faith, and family.” Numerous speakers, vendors, and displays celebrated guns and gun culture in America. (Getty Images)

“Over the years our focus has shifted from the stability of the site to the protection of our firearm freedoms. We must continue to teach firearm safety, promote our sport, and join with the countless other firearm supporters to strengthen our stand," reads the website’s “About Us” section.

"The staff here is dedicated to the community and to this fight, working to improve our relationships with businesses and users alike. The future is in all our hands and those who have been a part of this site for years can attest that we will always strive to make everything around us better,” it further says. 

The deplatforming trend

Pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol following a rally with President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. (Getty Images)

Following the insurrection attempt from pro-Trump extremists last week at the Capitol building in Washington DC, Donald Trump was de-platformed from several social networking websites, including Twitter and Facebook, and even Pinterest. Parler, the alternative social media platform favored by many from the far-right, found itself homeless on the internet after Amazon, Apple, and Google all booted it from their platforms in a span of a little more than 24 hours.

At the same time, Facebook is targeting content with the phrase "stop the steal," referring to false claims of election fraud. Twitter is targeting accounts that focus on the QAnon conspiracy theory. Twitter said it has suspended more than 70,000 accounts sharing content about QAnon.

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