New York’s State Senate is currently considering a bill from Democrat Kevin Parker that would allow police to reject residents’ pistol purchase applications or revoke their already-obtained gun licenses if police find examples of hate speech in the applicants’ social media or search engine history.
According to the text of the law as proposed by the state senator [emphasis in bold mine]:
In order to ascertain whether any social media account or search engine history of an applicant presents any good cause for the denial of a license, the investigating officer shall… review an applicant’s social media accounts for the previous three years and search engine history for the previous year and investigate an applicant’s posts or searches related to (I) commonly known profane slurs or biased language used to describe the race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation of a person; (II) threatening the health or safety of another person; (III) an act of terrorism; or (IV) any other issue deemed necessary by the investigating officer.
The new bill would also instruct police to consider “revocation of a [gun] license” for possessing or carrying a pistol or revolver on the same four grounds. Although the law does not precisely define what would qualify as “biased language,” it does specify that “‘social media accounts’ shall only include Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram” and that a “‘search engine’ shall only include Google, Yahoo and Bing.”
Furthermore, the proposed law’s text makes clear that gun license applicants mustsubmit to a social media and search engine history investigation if they want to obtain or keep their licenses. This would include forcing all applicants to give police “any log-in name, password, or other means for accessing a personal account, service, or electronic communications device necessary to review such applicant’s social media accounts and search engine history.”
According to the New York Senate’s official website, Senator Parker’s gun control bill —officially labelled S9191— was referred to the Senate Rules Committee on November 14th and is still under consideration there.