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N.Y. Lawmaker: Want a Gun? Give Us Your Social Media Accounts First!

As the prison-industrial complex starts to crumble, get ready for the social-media-surveillance complex to replace it.

N.Y. State SenateN.Y. State SenateIn the midterm elections, the Democratic Party gained control of New York's state Senate from the Republicans, thus giving the Dems unified control of the governor's mansion and state legislature.

It also gives extra energy to a gun-control bill introduced on November 30 by state Sen. Kevin Parker, who represents Brooklyn for the Democratic and Working Families Parties. It's not quite as bad as a Black Mirror episode or reports out of China about using social media as a means of social control, but it's inching in that direction. (Side question: How did someone not start a social media platform called Panopticon?)

The bill would mandate that "prior to the delivery of any rifle or shotgun sold by a licensed dealer to any person, the purchaser shall consent to have his or her social media accounts and search history reviewed and investigated by the police authority of the locality where such sale is made." The legislation says cops should check out three years of activity on Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram and includes three years of searches on Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Parker introduced the legislation after the mass shooting at a synagogue in Pennsylvania on October 27. Although a number of accounts have said permit seekers would have to fork over their actual passwords to law enforcement, Parker says he is agnostic on that question.

Following the typical script of panic-driven legislating, Parker stresses the "newness" of social media:

"We're in a new age with new technology, and we need new rules," Parker said. "So we need to begin a conversation about the way that we monitor social media and use that in the context of giving out dangerous weapons that can in fact hurt or kill people."

When asked whether his law threatened various constitutional limits on government power, he responded:

"Ask the families of the people who were murdered in Pittsburgh if they thought it would be too far to make sure that that murderer didn't get his hands on a dangerous weapon."

Of course, any such legislation will face any number of challenges on First, Second, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment grounds. There is also a nearly endless litany of common-sense complaints: Why is any of this necessary, especially to exercise a constitutional right? Why only Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram and three search engines (not to give him any ideas, but if I were Parker, I'd try figuring out how to corral DuckDuckGo, a search engine whose selling point is privacy, into the matter somehow). Does Parker understand that histories can be altered or deleted?

At the state level, New York already has very restrictive gun laws, with all counties and municipalities adding relatively tougher conditions to the owning and carrying of handguns. Throughout the state, handguns and carry permits are done on a "may issue" basis rather than the less-restrictive "shall issue" standard (basically, in "shall issue" jurisdictions, the default setting is that an individual has a right to own whatever he wants unless his record indicates a problem; "may issue" rules give greater discretion to law enforcement to deny permits). Given the relative lack of regulation on long guns in New York, Parker's law might actually have a bigger effect on people buying rifles and shotguns than those seeking handguns.

The good news is that the bill doesn't currently have a sponsor in the state assembly and thus has no chance of moving forward at the current moment. The bad news? It may well get a sponsor.

More importantly, it represents that direction in which the country seems to be headed: toward a "mother-may-I" world, in which some authority must always be consulted with before we are able to get on with our lives. After decades of filling up prisons and criminalizing more and more parts of everyday life, we seem to be correcting course by pushing for criminal justice reform, an end to the war on drugs (or at least on weed), and getting rid of mandatory sentencing run amok. But in other ways—and I think Parker's proposed law speaks to this—some of us are trying mightily to control and regulate so many aspects of our lives, regardless of the efficacy of any particular restriction, or the violence it does to basic norms of individual freedom.

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  • Cy||

    SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED*


    *Except when we feel like it.

  • KevinP||

    Progressives are control freaks. While Republicans and conservatives have some pet control issues, Democrats and progressives seek to control EVERY aspect of our lives.

    And half of Reason's staff are progressives. Sigh. The libertarian moment fizzled out.

  • Zeb||

    Which of the Reason staff seeks to control every aspect of our lives?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ASK THE PEOPLE WHO WERE VICTIMS IF THEY THOUGHT PROTECTING INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY WAS IMPORTANT.

  • Cy||

    You didn't get the memo? Everyone is a victim!

  • Don't look at me!||

    I asked them . No answer.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    In that case you get to make up an answer for them.

  • Ed in North Texas||

    Poster child for Franklin's thought on liberty vs. safety.

  • lafe.long||

    The bill would mandate that "prior to the delivery of any rifle or shotgun sold by a licensed dealer to any person, the purchaser shall consent to have his or her social media accounts and search history reviewed and investigated by the police authority of the locality where such sale is made."

    "I don't own a computer or phone. Now sell me my goddam gun."

  • ||

    Wait... 'rifle or shotgun'? Not even pistols? Aren't pistols the mode of weapon favored by bad guys* in just about every scenario from muggings to mass shootings? So this proposed law wouldn't even be that good at what it proposes to do??

    *And as a kind of corollary, aren't rifles and shotguns the mode of weapon favored by people with what the media deems to be 'legitimate' usage of weapons, i.e. hunting, target shooting, etc?

  • ||

    Not to say that pistols can't be used for hunting or target shooting... Or that the concept of 'legitimate' usage of weapons is necessary for the right to be exercised of course. Just that I always see the argument: 'Guns have only one use: To KILL', and it would seem to me that if you buy that argument, it's more truthy for pistols than for rifles/shotguns.

    Ah well, I give up trying to understand this logic.

  • Cy||

    Then they get you for felony fraud.

  • Longtobefree||

    "I don't own a computer or phone. Now sell me my goddam gun."

    First you have to go buy a computer of phone, get several social media accounts and post for three years. then reapply. Clearly, if you do not have social media accounts, you are a 'lone wolf' terrorist, or just plain anti-social. Either way, common sense says "no gun for you".

  • TxJack 112||

    The wording of the law illustrates the problem. After clearing a federal background check, you must undergo a second investigation where the rules and standards are totally subjective. Like may issue gun licenses, police would simply reject everyone except the very wealthy and politically connnected who have control over their jobs and continued employment. Everyone would be denied.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Search histories?

    And if I clear them routinely? Or use the library?

    These people are morons.

  • ||

    What's funny is the government already has them (or can easily reconstruct them from ISP logs). So it's irrelevant if you clear your history or not. That they even are asking for them is testament to the fact that they shouldn't be doing so. Meaning: they already have your histories but don't want to use them for fear of being deemed intrusive or creepy and thus generating political will to remove that particular power. But it's not intrusive or creepy if you submit them voluntarily.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Not necessarily. These people are disingenuous by habit. Their STATED reasons for wanting a law are seldom their REAL reasons for wanting a law. In this case, I suspect that this is the entering wedge, and that the actual goal, some years down the road, is placing the same requirement on obtaining a drivers' license.

    The Progressive Left's goal is always, Always, ALWAYS increased surveillance of the common citizen, who they consider to be a dangerous fool.

  • Agammamon||

    Clearing your search history doesn't clear it *at the ISP level*. Of course, that gets muddled because everything coming out of your house is on in IP address - so your 'how to kill my wife' searches are mixed in with your wife's 'how to kill my husband' searches and your kid's 'how to kill my parents' searches.

    And that would include stuff on phones if they're done through the home wifi network.

    And it gets more complicated if you routinely use the library (as pointed out) or force an IP address refresh.

  • LiborCon||

    Google keeps records of your searches and your ISP knows every URL you connect to. Google, Facebook and Twitter track your online activity even when you're not logged into your accounts. And Chrome is a Trojan horse created to gather as much data about you as possible.

    If you use the library's computer, they can still track you if you log into any of your accounts.

  • Matthew Chalice||

    The Niskanen Center is hosting a shindig, and all the best people are invited. #RecoveringLibertarian #PassionateModerate

  • Matthew Chalice||

    Off-topic, obviously.

  • Matthew Chalice||

    "I come from the libertarian movement, whose errors & darker impulses certainly contributed to the rise of Trumpism," tweets Brink Lindsey.

    Please laugh.

  • jagjr||

    nonsense statement. what 'darker impulses' come from a concept that favors individual liberty, free economic exchange, and living & letting live?? how does striving against most of what Mr. Trump stands for - cronyism, autocracy, protectionism, exploitation, misogyny - 'contribute to the rise of Trumpism'??

  • bevis the lumberjack||

    "We're in a new age with new technology, and we need new rules," Parker said

    Parker is full of it. The "new age of technology" doesn't enter into it. This type of process would have been possible before the internet age, it's just that the cops would have had to interview everybody that the applicant talked to before he/she could be given the gun. Social media just makes it easier and cheap.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    "We're in a new age with new technology, and we need new rules," Parker said"

    translates as "We think we can get away with it now," Parker said.

  • Ron||

    And who determines what is a good social life? what ever happened to the right to privacy or does that only apply to abortions these days where far more have been murdered than by all gun murders in the U.S..

    Soon they will want our social histories to vote as well

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Precisely. Which is why I favor reformulating the Second Amendment as follows;

    "The occasional horsewhipping, defenestration, or lynching of an offensive government stooge being necessary for the security of a free people, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

  • sarcasmic||

    And who determines what is a good social life?

    Officer discretion.

  • ||

    And this people are not subjective? This people can not fall prey to their own flaws? To their own jelousy? Couldn't some of them be racist? Couldn't some of them not understand dark humor? Dude your social media should not be ground for your right to defend against criminals who will always have a gun. Fuck youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu.

  • Zeb||

    And even if you are a full-on Nazi who thinks the Jews should all be shot, odds are you are never going to go out and murder a bunch of people. So between the first and second amendments, it's still pretty clearly an unreasonable imposition. Unpleasant people with terrible beliefs have the right to have guns too.

  • Ed in North Texas||

    "Unpleasant people with terrible beliefs have the right to have guns too." They intend to fix that too, preferably by eliminating the Second Amendment. Of course with their attitude, as Obama said, that the Constitution is a list of "don'ts" instead of things the government should do, they would be even happier getting rid of the Constitution completely.

  • jagjr||

    wow. don't remember that quote - can you cite?? love to read in context. I was not aware that Mr. Obama was actually a competent Constitutional scholar (so many of his statements clearly indicate otherwise). damn right the Constitution is a list of don'ts directed at government. it was written that way, over the objections of those who thought it was a straitjacket that could prevent the government from doing "good things that needed to be done". the potential for abuse of government power is nearly unlimited, and a straitjacket is our only protection. we can only afford to ALLOW the government to do those specific tasks that can achieve broad consensus, and only in the form narrowly limited to achieve that task.

  • ||

    Maybe we can right the ship if we required people to submit their social media histories before being allowed to exercise their 1st amendment rights. I'm thinking primarily speech here, but I'd be willing to entertain religion and assembly too. What? That's not the way it works, you say? But but but I can make all the same arguments that apply to restricting the 2nd amendment apply to restricting the 1st.

    And before you criticize, I also would be (sarcastically) in favor of forcing people to quarter troops unless they submit their SM history as well.

  • creech||

    Because politicians have proven very dangerous to the liberties of Americans, I think they should be required to submit their social media histories to the public before they are allowed on the ballot!

  • Brian||

    I, for one, look forward to the day I'm required to have a Facebook and Twitter account, posting regularly.

  • ||

    And woe unto he who posts something that is deemed to be wrongthink. Even years later.

  • ||

    Shit, I meant woe unto he/she/it/nogender/everygender who posts something that is deemed to be wrongthink. And I don't mean 'woe unto' in a religious kind of way. Although neither do I mean it in an a-religious kind of way. But I also respect every religion. Even the corny ones. But I don't mean 'corny' in a disrespectful way. Nor do I mean it in a respectful kind of way.

    Fuck. They're not going to let me have any guns now.

  • Don't look at me!||

    Or a woman.

  • John||

    They will end up killing social media. If posting on social media means risking your career and social standing on the whims of the SJW trash who inhabit it, people will just stop using it.

  • ||

    "They will end up killing social media."

    Eh. I mean, would that be a bad thing, necessarily? We could always just use that time to go back to concentrating on pooping.

    It would also basically put an end to SJWs because without Social Media they would be forced to actually (non-anonymously) confront people they disagree with in a public setting. Something not all of them have the stomach for.

  • John||

    I don't think it would be a bad thing at all. But it will be a bad thing to the social media companies. Yet, they continue to pursue a path that will lead to their demise.

  • Agammamon||

    Doesn't seem to be doing it any harm now. In fact, like 90% of the internet is for porn, 90% of social media is for virtue signalling.

    So if you're not on Twitter tearing other people apart, you're suspect and in danger of being torn apart yourself.

  • Zeb||

    If posting on social media means risking your career and social standing on the whims of the SJW trash who inhabit it, people will just stop using it.

    Seems like we are already half-way there. And it hasn't worked yet.

    This is why I won't use social media with my real name. I like not having much come up when you Google my name. All you get is work stuff and some paper I wrote in high school on some weirdo's website about Francis Bacon.

  • Rat on a train||

    Not just wrongthink. You will be punished if you don't praise the right ideas. Having a page full of cute cat photos is no defense.

  • ||

    True, that. Virtue signaling is a valuable skill and should be taught in universities if it isn't already.

  • Juice||

    And if that person doesn't use any social media and doesn't use tracking search engines?

  • Ron||

    Read Brians comment above soon it will be a requirement to have a social media account just like health insurance and you must check in everyday and post your most meaningless thoughts. better yet lets just put an observer into every home just like China is doing by posting a million observers in muslim homes

  • sarcasmic||

    Who needs observers when telescreens are so much more efficient?

  • Don't look at me!||

    If you like your social media account, you can keep your social media account.

  • Juice||

    better yet lets just put an observer into every home

    I see commercials for them every day.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Check out the Black Mirror episode "Nose Dive"

  • Ken Shultz||

    "[N]or shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law"

    ---Fourteenth Amendment

    Since when has submitting one's social media history to arbitrary scrutiny by the police been sufficient to satisfy the requirements of due process?

  • bevis the lumberjack||

    "Since when has submitting one's social media history to arbitrary scrutiny by the police been sufficient to satisfy the requirements of due process?"

    For purposes of civil asset forfeiture, filing charges against property is good enough to satisfy the due process requirements, according to the courts. If "United States vs. An Article Consisting of 50,000 Cardboard Boxes, More or Less, Each Containing One Pair of Clacker Balls" is good enough, then this proposal will be super good enough.

  • ||

    Clacker Balls is my porno name. I mean, now it is.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Because they're wrong about civil asset forfeiture, doesn't make them right about this.

    Jeez, the depths we've gone to for the drug war.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Black Mirror episode or reports out of China about using social media as a means of social control, but it's inching in that direction.

    I'm not sure if I'd call it "inching" in that direction, but ok.

  • A Thinking Mind||

    Fortunately, I can't imagine a bill like this actually passing and if it did, it seems a court would be quick to strike it down for multiple infringements into personal liberty.

    Madison was initially against enumerating individual rights as a Bill of Rights since he assumed that any rights which weren't enumerated would be consumed. Jefferson argued that it was important to demark clear barriers where the government wasn't allowed to infringe.

    At this point it feels like Jefferson was right. The government is trying to destroy even the rights we have explicitly listed and the only barrier stopping it is the explicit words stating the government isn't allowed to do that.

  • Alcibiades||

    I understand Madison's concerns but Jefferson was clearly correct here, just another example of the old saw, "get it in writing".

  • Ed in North Texas||

    Unfortunately in the modern era the "clear barriers" have been honored more in the breach than the observance.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    "So we need to begin a conversation

    When a politician says we need to "begin a conversation", knuckle up.

  • John||

    We need to have a conversation that consists of you shutting up and this clown telling you how it is going to be.

  • sarcasmic||

    More importantly, it represents that direction in which the country seems to be headed: toward a "mother-may-I" world, in which some authority must always be consulted with before we are able to get on with our lives.

    It's already that way when it comes to the economy. Want to do something that creates value for society, and generates a profit in the process? Get ready to start asking permission and obeying orders.

    It's only a matter of time before it's like that in our personal lives as well.

  • Trifrozion||

    If it was just social media, I'm good since I only have LinkedIn.
    The only way I have a shot with the search history is if they don't know about incognito viewing (which they may not).

  • shortviking||

    Kevin Parker should be prosecuted for attempted mass identity theft and fraud for even proposing this.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    People should call Kevin Parker an Uncle Tom.

    Gun control is mainly a racist method used to keep black people from having guns.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    And just like all other gun control laws, this one will grow in scope. They'll demand that gun owners submit to social media monitoring going forward, and all emails and texts as well.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Why not force-initiating politicians? Have they got something to hide?

  • Alcibiades||

    Nothing from Reason so far concerning yesterday's victory for the First Amendment out of the 9th Circuit. Wasn't even mentioned in the morning links.

    Maybe Reason's coming around to the ACLU's way of seeing things.

  • John||

    What case was that?

  • Alcibiades||

    https://www.yaf.org/news/yaf-wins-landmark-free
    -speech-lawsuit-uc-berkeley-to-pay-70000-and-
    rescind-unconstitutional-policies/

    So far, complete silence here on an important First Amendment decision.

  • Jerry B.||

    The real Berkeley Free Speech Movement. Good for YAF.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Back in the 80s, when the existence of the LP was a closely guarded secret. Some looters came into a UT YAF meeting and flung a hard plastic pudding package into a speaker's face as he extolled the benefits of nuclear power plants. So the initiation of force to silence non-communist campus speakers has been going on at least 40 years now. Thanks Alci... And the no-border-inspections 9th Circuit, no less. This is news!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    2nd Amendment: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    The genius of the 2nd Amendment protection of the People to keep and bear Arms is that it does not matter what new technology comes along. Its all protected from government infringement.

    Laser rifles of the future will also be as protected as swords, grenades, bombs, knives, pistols....

  • Hank Phillips||

    Reassuring, until you read the text of the Kristallnacht and Enabling Act laws passed in Germany. The Wikipedia has the German and English of that Law to Remedy the Distress of the People and the Reich. Bear in mind that this was not long after the Reichstag Fire Act, which is a teeny-weeny bit like "our" Patriot Act scribbled in haste after Saudi religious berserkers flew planes into NY buildings. Germany at that time was about 98% Catholic and Protestant, much like Tea Partisans, Prohibition Party members,. American Party supporters and God's Own Proselytizers. So tell me again It Can't Happen Here...

  • KevinP||

    Of course it can happen here. That is why we keep guns.

  • ||

    Wrong think again it is called the goverment,It is a huge dildo up your ass going state by state deciding arbitrarility how far your "rights" go.

  • TxJack 112||

    You are not allowed to own a bomb or genades since rhey are not common use weapons. I just love moronic statements like this one.

  • Cloudbuster||

    "Ask the families of the people who were murdered in Pittsburgh if they thought it would be too far to make sure that that murderer didn't get his hands on a dangerous weapon."

    *facepalm*

  • Hank Phillips||

    A modest suggestion: Let the looters lead by example and publish THEIR social media data for the past three years on all those platforms to show us how unthreatening it is. Indeed, since legislators have whack jobs with guns at their beck and call to run out on coercive missions as SWAT teams and cigarette hunters, politicians and their piggies First Responders™ should be the first to reassure citizens of their own peaceful intentions. All of those politicos are absolutely committed to the initiation of force to accomplish their goals, exactly like kingfish and kingpins.

  • ||

    Most of the "black lives matter" signature complains are far more complicated than they make them out to be. I saw a video the other day of a black guy going case by case explaining how this cases were not neccesarily racism even if they might have been in some cases.

  • Anomalous||

    It's a good thing his proposed law doesn't mention woodchippers.

  • Agammamon||

    'Give us your social media account'?

    1. Are these things so ubiquitous that you can reasonably expect someone to have one and that its current? I mean, I have a Facebook and Twitter account (and, technically, Google Hangout? Whatever its called - they're shutting it down anyway) but I haven't even logged in to the Facebook account for at least a year now, maybe two. Similar with Twitter.

    2. Does this guy explain how non-activity would be viewed? You can't have a gun unless you have a at least 15 pieces of flair - but 15 is just the bare minimum and you need to guess how many would satisfy?3

    2. And what about SnapChat or WhatsApp? Do those count as social media?

    3. Wouldn't you just create dummy accounts? Especially criminals and terrorists? At least the ones that can plan ahead?

  • WoodChipperBob||

    I can just see the results now:
    Read about school shooters - might be planning one - denied.
    Didn't read about school shooters - obviously, he's hiding something - denied.
    Not enough posts/friends - too much of a loner - denied.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Posted a comment on Reason.com - Holy Christ, we've got to keep this free thinking, pro-independence maniac from owning a plastic butter knife!

  • NoVaNick||

    What will happen with this is it won't be only the nutjobs who post rambling stuff about government conspiracies or Jews who will be denied gun permits by the benevolent State of New York. Anyone who posts photos of their kids or grandkids will be denied too, because the children might get access to guns. As will anyone who is recently divorced because maybe they want to take out their ex, or widowed, because maybe they are suicidal. Of course, anyone who complains about their job or school will be flagged too.

  • ||

    Anyone black because of racist cops,anyone white because of racist cops,anyone skinny because of resentful fat bitches,anyone fat because of resentful skinny bitches...etc up to the infinite. Yeha i want to add more subjective requirements made by flawed people with low paying jobs. Yeha i want my own personal defense to be at the hands of someone who could totally discriminate against me for making too much or too little money or a million other posibilitys. These people don't even fucking think before they act. They have no values .They don't have the morals of second thinking the ramifications of this things. This guy should be executed for the amorality it is that someone with that position of power would present such and insane law.

  • TW||

    The bill would mandate that "prior to the delivery of any rifle or shotgun sold by a licensed dealer to any person, the purchaser shall consent to have his or her social media accounts and search history reviewed and investigated by the police authority of the locality where such sale is made."

    Cool, now let's apply the same requirement on anyone seeking an abortion.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    False equivalence - nobody's using an abortion to kill....oh, wait.

  • IceTrey||

    I completely agree that NYers should have the government pry into their private lives in order to buy a gun. They deserve to reap what they sow.

  • Longtobefree||

    have his or her social media accounts and search history reviewed and investigated by the police authority

    Any guesses on how long that review will take? I suspect that there will be one person assigned, preferably one with a chronic illness requiring frequent doctor visits.

  • TxJack 112||

    The primary problem with this law is it imposes the exact opposite of what the 2nd amendment protects. If you must pass some arbitrary "test" to exercise your right to own a firearm for self defense then it is not a right, but a privilege p. i saw this idiot on Tucker Carlson last night and he was unable to ask a simple question- what justifies singling out gun owners for special investigation by compelling them to give up their passwords for social media? When Carlson asked why not just make everyone give up their passwords, the politician just stammered. The intent of this bill is very clear. Give police and politicians the ability to deny anyone from owning a gun. It isa defacto ban.

  • TxJack 112||

    This proposal only proves the first inclination of government is the restricting, not expanding of individual rights. This type
    of "law" is exactly why we have a Bill of Rights. The Founding Fathers by studying history knew any government over time will become oppressive under the guise of "social welfare" and "for the good of the people" since it has happened again and again. There always have been and always will be those who they know what is besf for everyone and will use whatever means necessary, including force to impose their will. This is just another great example.

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