Gun Owners Social Media and Search History May Be Under Scrutiny In New York

Katie Frost, Staff Writer

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The rise in hate crimes against numerous groups of people through the use of guns has propelled the citizens of New York to propose bill S9191. This bill requires anyone who intends to apply for or renew a gun license to consent to disclosing their username and password to their social media accounts for the purposes of searching for,  “biased language used to describe the race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religious practice, age, disability, or sexual orientation of the person,” according to Townhall News. The bill also lists the prohibition of threats of terrorism and threats against the safety of another person.

The intention of the bill is to protect the people who could potentially be deprived of their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by catching would-be attackers before they commit a hate crime. The problem with this is that the bill requires everyone, regardless of whether they are at risk for committing a hate crime, to hand over their logins and passwords to their accounts.

Under the bill, police would not need a probable cause or even a reasonable suspicion to have access to gun owners’ logins. A person’s preference to own a gun licence alone would qualify as grounds for the police to have access to their account and web history. Opposition to the law is that, “Some see the proposal as an infringement of their First Amendment rights,”  as explained 13WHAM ABC News.

Both the people for and against the bill have one thing in common: they each have their own ideas on methods of how to protect people’s rights. Those for S9191, as stated above, are trying to protect people from future hate crimes that, if committed, will unjustly take away their access to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. The side that is against the bill does not want innocent people, who have not been formally charged with a crime, to be guilty until proven innocent. This reasoning is based on the fact that they are required to hand over personal information without being charged or even suspected of committing a crime. The problem with this bill is that the rights of the citizens of the United States cannot be preserved by partaking in the actions of denying innocent citizens their rights.