Two New York Democrat lawmakers are proposing a new bill that could prove to be potentially dangerous for prospective gun buyers in New York.
Although I had previously praised Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams for encouraging other past and current NYPD officers to carry at places of worship in wake of the Pittsburgh shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue here at The Resurgent, I disagree with him and State Sen. Kevin Palme (D)'s proposal to examine a prospective gun buyer's social media—especially if they are law-abiding and mentally fit.
This bill would permit law enforcement to do these two things for any person seeking to purchase firearms: 1) review three years of social media history and 2) one year of internet search history.
“Too many people who are emotionally disturbed are doing and showing their emotional instability on the social-media platforms," Adams added. "Yet these platforms are not being used to properly scrutinize if an individual should purchase a firearm."
New York gun owners or prospective gun owners should feel uneasy about this. There will be some serious issues that arise from this proposed bill—which remains unnamed as of this writing.
This bill would examine applicant's accounts on the following social media outlets: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Adams said it wouldn't be far-fetched for this to occur, citing that the NYPD currently uses this tactic to investigate gang members.
What would this kind of social media and Internet search entail? Will it be equally applied to applicants? Will it be fair? Will it be respectful of rights? Will it actually deter crime from taking place, or just be another ineffective method installed to please gun control advocates?
If those overseeing this process are Democrat and anti-gun—which can be the case given its New York—more than likely they will selectively issue the okay and discriminate heavily against a prospective gun buyer if they are, let say, pro-Trump or pro-Republican—even if they are law-abiding and mentally fit.
Social media should already flag accounts that make threats or spew hate and cooperate with authorities if they are tipped off about a criminal. Twitter's Terms & Conditions explicits states that threats and violence can get you suspended on the platform.
On Abusive Behavior: We believe in freedom of expression and open dialogue, but that means little as an underlying philosophy if voices are silenced because people are afraid to speak up. In order to ensure that people feel safe expressing diverse opinions and beliefs, we prohibit behavior that crosses the line into abuse, including behavior that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence another user’s voice.
On Violence and Harm: Violence: You may not make specific threats of violence or wish for the serious physical harm, death, or disease of an individual or group of people. This includes, but is not limited to, threatening or promoting terrorism. You also may not affiliate with organizations that — whether by their own statements or activity both on and off the platform — use or promote violence against civilians to further their causes.
Can law enforcement preemptively refer to social media to predict would-be criminal behavior? In many cases, yes. Recent mass shooters have tweeted or posted they are about to enact horror onto their victims—yet social media outlets like Twitter or Gab don't alert them. Would the authorities be equipped to do this and respect prospective gun customers' rights? That remains unclear.
It would have been nice if the two had been forced to answer if this was an attack on rights not listed in the First Amendment (and, yes, they’re violating the First Amendment because it’s the government using someone’s speech to deny them rights). This proposal is also a violation of the Fourth Amendment because search engine results aren’t public domain. My guess is the bill, once it’s filed and should it become law, could be declared unconstitutional due to the Carpenter decision. If it’s not, then it proves Justice Neil Gorsuch’s point the majority didn’t go far enough in their ruling. It’s also a violation of the Second Amendment, but most here already know that.
If someone is criminally convicted of a crime, they are already barred from purchasing firearms and a shop owner will see that when they run a background check. If someone makes violent threats or exhibits bad behavior in-person or online, a gun shop owner notices it and kindly tells the customer they will be refusing them service (as they should).
I have a bad feeling about this, and you should too. It likely won't deter criminal gun behavior...