That was fast: New York lawmakers want to use social media history to block people from gun ownership

· November 5, 2018  
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A picture of a gun as drawn on a chalkboard
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Some New York City lawmakers want to use people’s social media history to take away their Second Amendment rights.

According to reports, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and state Senator Kevin Palmer are drafting legislation that would give law enforcement the ability to comb through up to three years of a person’s social media and internet history before the person could purchase a firearm.

“If the police department is reviewing a gang assault, a robbery, some type of shooting, they go and do a social media profile investigation,” Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said of the proposal on a recent radio appearance. “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 firearm.”

Wow. If you thought the “no-fly, no buy” idea of stripping the Second Amendment rights of people on an arbitrary list with no due process was an unconstitutional farce, just wait until this becomes the next big gun trend.

The anti-gun crowd is sure to cling to it because it seems to directly address the details of the most recent gun crime — just like stripping rights from people on the “no-fly” list became the gun-grab proposal du jour after the Orlando shooting. However, it doesn’t hold up.

Yes, there are different forms of unprotected speech, like fighting words and direct incitement of violence, and there are crimes and conditions that can and should bar someone from gun ownership, but that’s not what we’re talking about.

What we’re really talking about is policing things that offend others under the vague premise of fighting “hate” with government force. Like “assault weapon,” there’s no real definition of “hate speech,” and the term never seems to stop evolving in a society where every form of legitimate right-leaning political disagreement is quickly labeled as some “hate” or prejudiced “ism.”

What’s to stop those whose real end game is to ban all private gun ownership from calling pro-life posts “hate speech” against women or pro-traditional marriage posts “hate speech” against gays? They might even start considering anti-Israel BDS propaganda anti-Semitic “hate speech” if it keeps guns out of private citizens’ hands. Who knows? Such is the problem with using subjective, arbitrary standards to take away constitutional rights.

But saying things that hurt people’s feelings on social media isn’t a crime in the United States — and under the First Amendment, it should never be. And it certainly shouldn’t mean that citizens lose a constitutional liberty over it.

There’s an old adage that says “bad facts make bad law.” It’s very true, and fact-free frenzies driven by gun-related atrocities make even worse law.


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Author: Nate Madden

Nate Madden is CRTV’s congressional correspondent. Follow him @NateMaddenCRTV or send tips to [email protected].