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Political Editors / December 7, 2018

Checking Social Media Before Firearm Purchases?

The New York legislation threatens citizens’ First and Second Amendment rights.

A Democrat state senator in New York, Kevin Parker, has introduced a draconian bill that not only has Second Amendment defenders ringing alarm bells, but social media up in arms as well over the bill’s threat to Americans’ First Amendment rights. In short, Parker’s legislation would mandate that “prior to the delivery of any rifle or shotgun sold by a licensed dealer to any person, the purchaser shall consent to have his or her social media accounts and search history reviewed and investigated by the police authority of the locality where such sale is made.”

Parker argued, “We’re in a new age with new technology, and we need new rules. So we need to begin a conversation about the way that we monitor social media and use that in the context of giving out dangerous weapons that can in fact hurt or kill people.” Funny, firearms have existed since long before the foundation of our great nation, and in fact played an integral factor in its creation. And while technology has continued to evolve, the principles upon which the Constitution rests have not.

Secondly, this is yet another example of a leftist lawmaker’s red herring: The vast majority of firearms used in crimes are illegally obtained.

The scariest thing about this legislation, however, is the threat it poses to Americans’ free-speech rights. The Associated Press notes that “licenses could be denied if investigators uncover threats of violence or terrorism or the use of racial or ethnic slurs.” Civil rights attorney Norman Siegel argued that the bill’s language guidelines directing police to consider “commonly known profane slurs or biased language” are too broad. He added, “A person could be prejudiced. That doesn’t mean he’s not entitled to his Second Amendment right.”

Finally, Nick Gillespie at Reason makes an important observation, writing that this proposed legislation “represents that direction in which the country seems to be headed: toward a ‘mother-may-I’ world, in which some authority must always be consulted with before we are able to get on with our lives. After decades of filling up prisons and criminalizing more and more parts of everyday life, we seem to be correcting course by pushing for criminal justice reform, an end to the war on drugs (or at least on weed), and getting rid of mandatory sentencing run amok. But in other ways — and I think Parker’s proposed law speaks to this — some of us are trying mightily to control and regulate so many aspects of our lives, regardless of the efficacy of any particular restriction, or the violence it does to basic norms of individual freedom.”

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