'Legislation arising from tragedies is almost uniformly bad. One need only look at the domestic surveillance growth industry kick started by the Patriot Act to see that fear-based legislation works out very badly for constituents.
A few New York lawmakers are reacting to the horrific Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with a gun control bill that makes zero sense. Expanding on criminal background checks, these legislators are hoping to give law enforcement the opportunity to dig through gun buyers' online history.
Eric Adams, the president of Brooklyn Borough, and state Senator Kevin Palmer are currently writing the proposed legislation, which would give law enforcement authorities the power to check up to three years of an individual’s social media accounts and internet search history before they are allowed to buy a gun, WCBS Newsradio 880 reported. One of the main aims is to identify any hate speech shared by the users, as the politicians noted that such offensive comments are generally only discovered after mass shootings occur.
The facile explanation for this ridiculous piece of legislation is this: somehow the Pittsburgh shooter might have been prevented from buying a gun because he posted anti-Semitic content to a social media platform.
This premise will only make sense to those incapable of giving it more than a superficial examination. First off, gun ownership is Constitutionally-protected, whether these legislators like it or not. It doesn't make sense to abridge someone's rights over social media posts, even if the posts contain bigoted speech. That speech is also protected by the Constitution, so combining the two simply doubles the chance the law will be struck down as unconstitutional. Plenty of people engage in ignorant bigotry. Not all of them are would-be criminals.
This law would treat every gun buyer as a suspected criminal who may only take advantage of their guaranteed rights by engaging in government-approved speech. That's completely the wrong way around. This Brooklyn lawmaker doesn't seem to understand this inversion even when he directly, if inadvertently, addresses it.'
Read more: New York Lawmakers Want Social Media History To Be Included In Gun Background Checks
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