New York now requires gun applicants to share social media profiles for 'character and conduct' review

New York now requires gun applicants to share social media profiles for 'character and conduct' review
Two girls holding a banner with word guns strikethrough. Women holding sign that says not guns at a rally (Shutterstock).

The state of New York has incorporated a new requirement for residents seeking to purchase firearms. According to WUSA-9, applicants are now required to share their social media profiles as part of a review of their “character and conduct.”

Under the new requirement, gun applicants must provide a list of links to their current and previous social media accounts on all platforms for the past three years.

The news outlet notes:

The new requirement, which takes effect in September, was included in a law passed last week that sought to preserve some limits on firearms after the Supreme Court ruled that most people have a right to carry a handgun for personal protection. It was signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, who noted shooters sometimes telegraph their intent to hurt others.

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The new stipulation comes as concerns loom about what appears to be missed common denominators among mass shooting suspects. Many suspects shared highly alarming posts in the weeks and months leading up to the deadly shootings they allegedly carried out.

Although this new requirement is being applauded by Democratic lawmakers who have called for stricter gun laws, some expressed have raised questions and concerns about how the stipulation will be enforced.

Peter Kehoe, executive director of the New York Sheriffs’ Association, has indicated that sheriffs in the state have not received any additional funding or incentives to add more staff members to effectively execute the new application process. He also shared his opinion of the requirement. “I don’t think we would do that,” Kehoe said. “I think it would be a constitutional invasion of privacy.”

Another concern is how increased surveillance could impact Black and brown communities. It's no secret that minorities are surveilled far more than other races. Desmond Upton Patton, a social policy, communications, and medicine professor at the University of Pennsylvania, explained why he is concerned and what needs to be done to ensure the surveillance process is done fairly.

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“The question should be: Can we do this in an anti-racist way that does not create another set of violence, which is the state violence that happens through surveillance?” said Patton.

Gun advocates are also not pleased with the requirement. Jared Yanis, host of Guns & Gadgets on YouTube, shared a hypothetical take on the requirement and what it could mean for the future of law enforcement.

“You’re also going to have to tell them your social media accounts because New York wants to thoroughly investigate you to figure out if you’re some of those dangerous law-abiding citizens who are taking the country by storm and causing crime to skyrocket,” Yanis said. “What have we come to?”

Some have also questioned where authorities will draw the line between acceptable and alarming behavior.

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“Often the sticking point is: How do we go about enforcing this?” said James Densley, a criminal justice professor at Metro State University. “I think it starts to open up a bit of a can of worms, because no one quite knows the best way to go about doing it.”

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