In the midst of the midterm elections, this story got buried but it's too important to let it slip by. Two lawmakers in New York state are working to pass legislation which would make social media checks a requirement before purchasing a firearm.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and State Sen. Kevin Palmer want law enforcement to have the ability to review a person's social media for the past three years and internet search history from the last one year, WCBS reported.
“A three-year review of a social media profile would give an easy profile of a person who is not suitable to hold and possess a fire arm,” Adams said. “If the police department is reviewing a gang assault, a robbery, some type of shooting, they go and do a social media profile investigation."
Specifically, law enforcement agencies are looking for "hate speech," whatever they decide that means.
The men believe that if this kind of law was in place, the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Philadelphia would have never occurred, Spectrum News reported.
"If this was in place, there would have been a clear indicator of the shooter in the Tree of Life shooting in Pittsburgh. The profile of a person who was mentally unstable of purchasing or possessing a firearm would have been flagged," Adams 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."
Today, @SenatorParker and I are announcing legislation to authorize the @NYSPolice and authorities like the @NYPD to conduct social media and internet search history reviews as part of the background check process for purchasing a gun. Our primary goal must be to #endgunviolence. pic.twitter.com/0IvlhHVRbJ— Eric Adams (@BPEricAdams) November 2, 2018
#Hatespeech that incites violence, or indicates the intent to commit violence, is not part of our constitutional tradition. As much as we want to eliminate hate speech entirely from our society, our primary goal must always be to end #gunviolence. pic.twitter.com/6D3s8xzY2n— Eric Adams (@BPEricAdams) November 2, 2018
The four platforms the bill would focus on would be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, Pix 11 reported.
The Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEE) made a very important point on this issue in one of their blog posts:
First, comparing the search of a prospective gun buyer’s internet history to routine police investigations is odd. When an assault, robbery, or shooting occurs, police are investigating a crime. That is not the case with someone trying to buy a firearm; the buyer is simply trying to make a lawful purchase. This bill is closer to what one might call pre-crime, an idea that has served as a plot device in dystopian literature for more than half a century. (The 2002 Tom Cruise movie Minority Report, a story that centers around a state that has figured out how to stop crimes before they happen, was based on a 1956 Philip K. Dick novel.)
This is a baaaad idea all the way around. First of all, not everyone's internet search history is going to give you a picture of their mental health. How many of us hear words we don't know (like medicines or illnesses) and look up what it is?
What if you decide you want to purchase a new rifle so you do a bunch of Googling to see what caliber or make and model will work best for you? Will the government see that as a potential threat?
There are so many variables here. And it's a slippery slope. Once we give the government the ability to openly look into our private lives, where will they stop?