Law Would Require Gun Buyers to Turn Over Social Media Passwords & Search History Before Making Purchase

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Firearms purchases require background checks. The scope of those checks, though, may be increasing dramatically. New legislation being proposed would require gun buyers to turn over their social media profiles and their search history for review before they would be allowed to buy a gun. Officials are hoping that a review of three years background might help them quell violence.

The bill was drafted by New York state Senator Kevin Parker and Brooklyn borough President Eric Adams. The proposed legislation is being celebrated by those seeking tighter restrictions on gun purchases.

“There should be more restrictions on how guns are purchased,” Paul McQuillen, director of the Buffalo chapter of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence told reporters. “We should have more background checks.”

“We’ve obviously seen some of the mass shooters have a social media history that should have sent red flags,” he added.

The push for the new bill gained momentum after the shooting at a synagogue earlier this month.

“Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and [New York] State Sen. Kevin Parker announced legislation they say could have prevented the massacre at Pittsburg’s Tree of Life Synagogue that left 11 people dead,” KPIX writes.

Robert Bowers, the man who shot worshipers at the synagogue, had left a trail of vitriol and hate online–precisely the type of information the legislators now hope could be mined for warning signs.

If the bill becomes law, it will allow authorities to review up to three years of social media posts, and a year of internet search history as part of the process for buying a firearm.

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance and so it’s important for us to continue to review our laws as it relates to access to guns and other kinds of weapons,” Parker said.

“Too many people who are emotionally disturbed are doing and showing their emotional instability on the social-media platforms,” Adams added. “Yet these platforms are not being used to properly scrutinize if an individual should purchase a firearm.”

There are four named platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. The sites will be searched by police who would look for patterns of behavior, hate speech, and anything else that would seem troubling.

Some have seen this as an attack on First Amendment rights. They claim the new search would violate their rights to free speech. Adams doesn’t see it that way. He argues that the process is already being used to investigate gang behaviors.

“Don’t only use it to respond to a criminal act, use it to prevent a criminal act,” Adams said.

The bill has a long uphill battle to become a law, and there would certainly be legal challenges.