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New York will require carry conceal applicants to hand over social media

Applicants for a permit to carry a concealed weapon in New York state will have to hand over their social media accounts beginning in September for a review of their “character and conduct,” a move being criticized by the very authorities responsible for conducting it

A semiautomatic firearm with the background of an American flag
A semiautomatic firearm with the background of an American flag | Shutterstock

July 11, 2022 6:50pm

Updated: July 11, 2022 6:57pm

Applicants for a permit to carry a concealed weapon in New York state will have to hand over their social media accounts beginning in September for a review of their “character and conduct,” a move being criticized by the very authorities responsible for conducting it.

Peter Kehoe, executive director of the New York Sheriff’s Association, told CBS News on Friday that sheriffs have not received additional money or staffing to handle the new application process. He also said that although the law requires social media accounts be submitted, he doesn’t think local officials were necessarily look at them.

“I don’t think we would do that,” Kehoe said.

“I think it would be a constitutional invasion of privacy.”

The new requirement was included in the sweeping handgun licensing overhaul passed by New York lawmakers on July 1, following the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the state’s 109-year-old law that required people to show “proper cause” in their CCW application.

It requires applicants list any social media accounts they’ve used in the past three years but does not specify whether applicants will be required to provide access to parts not visible to the public, according to AP.

 Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, justified the requirement because, “Sometimes, they’re telegraphing their intent to cause harm to others.”

Gun rights and privacy advocates have also blasted the law as a blatant offense on individual rights.

But others have raised subtle, more difficult questions about the social media requirement.

“Often the sticking point is: How do we go about enforcing this?” Metro State University criminal justice professor James Densley, cofounder of research initiative The Violence Project, told CBS.

Densley also highlighted the difficulty of decoding social media posts by younger people to differentiate between hostile intent and self-expression.

““Where this will get tricky is to what extent this is expression and to what extent is this evidence of wrongdoing?” he said.

Desmond Upton Patton, a social policy, communications and medicine professor at the University of Pennsylvania, raised concerns about how policing social media may affect Black and brown communities, who have historically been targeted by law enforcement.

“The question should be: Can we do this in an anti-racist way that does not create another set of violence, which is the state violence that happens through surveillance?” asked Patton, who founded SAFElab, a research initiative studying violence involving youths of color.

The new handgun bill also requires any applicants to provide four character references, take 16 hours of firearms safety training with two additional hours of practice on the range, undergo regular background checks and turn over the contact information of their spouse, domestic partner or any other adults in the household, according to AP.