Legislators in Albany on Friday approved an overhaul of state licensing regulations, adding a requirement that applicants hand over a list of their social media accounts dating back three years so their “character and conduct” can be verified. The move came after the high court said the Empire State had been unconstitutionally limiting people’s right to carry handguns.
“New Yorkers’ constitutional freedoms were just trampled on,” state Republican Chair Nick Langworthy said after both Democrat-majority chambers sent the measure to Governor Kathy Hochul (D-NY), who promptly signed it into law.
New York State New Gun Laws Include, People applying for a gun license will have to turn over a list of their social media accounts for officials to verify their “character & conduct”https://t.co/saFvPvnNQk
— TheLastRefuge (@TheLastRefuge2) July 2, 2022
Critics say the new requirements run afoul not only of the Second Amendment but also the First Amendment’s right to freedom of speech. The law is certain to draw legal challenges that could put New York’s gun restrictions right back in front of the Supreme Court.
Last month, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that New York’s restrictions on gun permits violated the Second and Fourteenth Amendments. The decision, in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen was widely viewed as the widest expansion of gun rights in more than a decade, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The case revolved around a 1911 New York state law that made the right to a concealed carry permit contingent on demonstrating “good moral character” and “proper cause.” In the majority opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that New Yorkers could not be required to show why they must demonstrate a need to exercise a Constitutional right.
“We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need,” Thomas wrote.
The gun law is set to take effect on Sept. 1. Democrats believe sifting through the three years’ worth of social media accounts of applicants will allow state officials to weed out dangerous people and keep them from obtaining handguns.
“Sometimes, they’re telegraphing their intent to cause harm to others,” Hochul said at a news conference.
The bill doesn’t specify if prospective gun owners will be forced to provide licensing officers access to private social media accounts.
Applicants seeking concealed-carry permits will also have to provide four character references, take 16 hours of firearms safety training plus two hours of practice at a range, undergo periodic background checks, and turn over contact information for their spouse, domestic partner or any other adults living in their household, The Associated Press reported.