Law would require social media check for pistol permit applicants in NY

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FILE – In this Jan. 26, 2013, file photo, handguns are displayed on a vendor’s table at an annual gun show in Albany, N.Y. In a study looking at data from 2006-14, serious gun injuries including many from assaults sent 75,000 U.S. children and teens to emergency rooms over the nine years. Results were released […]

New legislation proposed by lawmakers in New York would require social media checks before someone could get their pistol permit.

We’ve been told for years to keep passwords private. If you’re trying to get a pistol permit in the future, that may change.

According to a new bill in the New York State Senate, pistol permit applicants would have to give up their social media usernames and passwords to allow government officials to search for posts that “cause concern.”

“The judge who grants or denies a permit has fairly broad digression under New York State law. And it has to have a rational bases. So they can’t say they don’t like your gender or your race,” said Sheldon Boyce, an attorney with Brenna Boyce, PLLC.

The bill says specifically, that officials would investigate posts or searches related to profane slurs, or biased language used to describe race, color, gender, and religion – as well as threatening posts or writing about an act of terrorism.  If officials found such items, the pistol permit would be denied. 
Boyce explains the gray area of what’s defined as “concerning” could be unconstitutional.

“For example, religious practice- are we going to deny permits because a person goes to church or goes to a mosque?” Boyce asked. “In the case of Heller vs District of Columbia in 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the possession of a hand gun in the home is a fundamental constitutional right so anything that infringes upon that right is subject to challenge,” he explained.

Assemblywoman-Elect, Jamie Romeo agrees. She adds gun control is important, but items in the bill are not specifically clear; such as timing and overall enforcement. 

With no Assembly companion it has little chance of passing, but I think it adds a layer to the conversation,” said Romeo.

A main issue with this bill, is it does not clearly define what is “concerning” or if each individual judge (or county sheriff) could rule what they believe is “concerning or not.”

Social media accounts, according to this bill, only include Facebook, SnapChat, Twitter and Instagram. 

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