The US Supreme Court recently ruled that New York’s limits on gun permits were unconstitutional under the Second and Fourteenth Amendments. As a result, New York lawmakers swiftly adopted an addition to the state’s gun laws that requests three years’ worth of social media accounts for “character and conduct” verification from potential gun owners. But this proposed law is unneeded and neither rational nor advantageous; it also violates the constitution.
The First Amendment rights to freedom of speech granted by the Constitution are directly violated by the law’s heavy reliance on a person’s social media background to determine their fitness for gun ownership. Additionally, it goes against due process because users cannot file a petition to have posts that can be construed as aggressive or threatening removed until after permission has been rejected. The criteria of the law are even more debatable in light of the numerous studies that have demonstrated that social media does not predict actual violence.
Despite questions of constitutionality, this rule is also absurd when analyzed only from the perspective of safety. It would not only divert a lot of resources away from organizations that are already dealing with a backlog in application processing, but it may also result in more candidates being denied based on innocent posts or comments they made in the past. The proposal would also increase unneeded fees and paperwork for people applying for licenses, making it more difficult for law-abiding citizens who want to legally possess firearms to do so.
Fundamentally, this proposed bill is a misguided attempt by the state government to restrict access to firearms while also infringing on personal freedoms. It is a needless burden for potential gun owners as well as government organizations throughout New York State because it is neither reasonable nor effective and it unquestionably fails the legality test.