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06-2022

Gun applicants in NY must hand over social accounts

ALBANY, NY ( Associated Press) — As a warning sign missed in the investigation of mass murders, New York State is rolling out a new strategy to screen applicants for gun permits. Those wishing to carry a concealed carry weapon would be required to submit their social media accounts for their “character and conduct” to be reviewed.

It’s an approach that has been praised by many Democrats and national gun control advocacy groups, but some experts have questioned how the law will be implemented and address free speech concerns.

Some local officials who will be tasked with reviewing social media content are also asking whether they will have the resources and, in some cases, whether the law is constitutional.

The sheriff has not received additional money or staff to handle the new application process, said Peter Kehoe, executive director of the New York Sheriff’s Association. The law, he insisted, violates Second Amendment rights, and while applicants must list their social media accounts, they don’t think local officials will necessarily see them.

“I don’t think we’ll do that,” Kehoe said. “I think it would be a constitutional invasion of privacy.”

The new requirement, which took effect in September, was included in a law passed last week. Which followed a Supreme Court ruling that sought to preserve certain limits on firearms, giving most people the right to carry a handgun for personal protection. It was signed by Democrat, Gov. Kathy Hochul, who noted that shooters sometimes telegraph their intention to hurt others.

Increasingly, young men have turned online to signal What’s to come before committing a mass murder, which also involved the gunman who killed 19 children and two teachers.

Under the law, applicants are required to provide local authorities with a list of current and former social media accounts for the past three years. It will be up to the local sheriff’s staff, judges or country clerks to scroll through those profiles as they check whether applicants have made statements suggesting dangerous behavior.

The law requires applicants to go through hours of security training, prove they are proficient in shooting, provide four character references and sit in for a personal interview.

The Law Reflects How the Supreme Court’s Judgment Is Tanya Shardt, senior counsel and director of state and federal policy for the gun control advocacy organization Brady, said responsibility for investigating firearms in public has been shifted to the states.

Her group said it was not aware of any other states that require gun permit applicants to submit social media profiles.

However, the new approach comes amid growing debate over the legacy of policing and unfair monitoring of social media posts. of black and brown communities.

“The question has to be: can we do this in an anti-racism way that doesn’t create another set of violence, which is state violence that happens through surveillance?” said Desmond Upton Patton, a professor of social policy, communication and medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, who founded SAFElab, a research initiative studying violence involving youth of color.

Meanwhile, gun rights advocates are flouting the law.

“You also have to tell them your social media accounts because New York wants to do a thorough investigation to find out if you’re one of those dangerous law-abiding citizens who are taking the country by storm and skyrocketing crime.” touching,” says Jared Yanis, host of the YouTube channel Guns & Gadgets, in a widely viewed video on the new law. “What have we come to?”

Hochul, who has also tasked the state police with cracking down on extremism online, did not immediately respond to a list of questions about the need for social media, including how the state addresses free speech and privacy concerns. will address.

“Often the sticking point is this: How do we implement this?” said James Densley, a professor of criminal justice at Metro State University and co-founder of the research initiative The Violence Project. “I think it starts to open the can of worms, because no one knows the best way to do it.”

He said it can be difficult to decode social media posts by young people, who can express themselves simply by posting a music video.

“Where it will be difficult, to what extent is it an expression and to what extent is it evidence of wrongdoing?” Densley said.

Spokespersons for social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, 4Chain and Parlor did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Patton said New York should instead consider hiring a trained group that figures out how to reach people online who are showing signs of bigotry or trauma and may need help.

“There are a lot of nuances and pertinent issues. We speak differently; How we communicate can be misunderstood,” Patton said. “I worry that we don’t have the right people or the right tools to do things that are really useful in preventing violence.”

Adam Scott Wandt, a public policy professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said he supports gun control, but worries that New York laws may require mandatory disclosure of social media activity for people seeking other types of licenses. Can set an example. from the state.

New York’s law is hasty and vague, said Wandt, which teaches law enforcement personnel how to conduct searches on people via social media.

“I think what we would have done here in New York as a state, we would have confirmed their worst fear – that a slippery slope would be created that would gradually undermine their rights to carry guns and bureaucracy. to make decisions, based on vague criteria, as to who can have a gun and who cannot,” Wandt said. “This is what the Supreme Court was trying to avoid.”

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