Two New York City area Democrats have a real ‘genius’ (horrible) idea: let police look at social media and Internet search history before authorizing gun sales. Via PIX 11:
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and State Sen. Kevin Parker announced legislation they say could have prevented the massacre at Pittsburg’s Tree of Life Synagogue that left 11 people dead…
The proposed bill would authorize state and local law enforcement to review three years of social-media history and one year of internet search history, for any person seeking to purchase a firearm.
“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance and so it’s important for us to continue to review our laws as it relates to access to guns and other kinds of weapons,” Parker said.
“Too many people who are emotionally disturbed are doing and showing their emotional instability on the social-media platforms,” Adams added. “Yet these platforms are not being used to properly scrutinize if an individual should purchase a firearm.”
The four platforms include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Police will look for patterns engaging in violent hate speech or posing threats of violence to themselves or others.
I’m guessing I won’t be allowed to buy a gun in New York since I enjoy songs about Vikings raiding villages, Metallica, and authors writing themselves into a story so they can kill the lead female. I’ve also been known to listen to songs about how good it feels to be a gangster, and my browsing history includes searches on anarchists, Islam, John Woo films, video games, white and black supremacists, how to make a sword dummy, Judge Dredd, and Scandinavian noir.
So, I’m probably screwed.
A quick, historical anecdote. “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance” isn’t a real quote. It’s actually, “It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.” It’s highly doubtful Irish politician John Philpot Curran believed it should be the government doing the watching. After all, Curran preferred personal freedom and freedom of the press versus a strong government. But, I digress.
There is so much wrong with this proposal by Adams and Parker – it simply reinforces my belief government has too much power in this nation. This is the state looking for a reason to deny liberty to people who may or may not express views contrary to the accepted views of society without any evidence of a crime. There’s no slippery slope on this. Adams and Parker are jumping into an all-power to the state gorge without a parachute. All in the name of safety.
Of course, the pair believes it’s a-OK for this policy because, well, cops do it already. Via PIX, again:
Adams stressed this is not an attack on First Amendment rights and added that the NYPD is already using this tactic to investigate gang members.
“Don’t only use it to respond to a criminal act, use it to prevent a criminal act,” Adams said.
It would have been nice if the two had been forced to answer if this was an attack on rights not listed in the First Amendment (and, yes, they’re violating the First Amendment because it’s the government using someone’s speech to deny them rights). This proposal is also a violation of the Fourth Amendment because search engine results aren’t public domain. My guess is the bill, once it’s filed and should it become law, could be declared unconstitutional due to the Carpenter decision. If it’s not, then it proves Justice Neil Gorsuch’s point the majority didn’t go far enough in their ruling. It’s also a violation of the Second Amendment, but most here already know that.
The biggest problem is it’s people again running towards the government for protection from external or imagined threats. People want to feel safe, I get it. But I fail to see why it should be up to the government to do this protection. It would be better if individuals used their own judgement in deciding whether something is amiss. There’s nothing stopping a gun store from saying, “No, I won’t sell you this weapon – I don’t feel comfortable,” just like there’s nothing wrong with a restaurant telling someone they won’t sell them food because they’re not wearing shoes or a shirt. There’s also nothing wrong with a citizen reporting someone to the police because they’re concerned others are in danger – if there’s an apparent threat.
An exit question for Adams and Parker: how would they react if a Republican used this policy to deny one of their allies the right to buy weapons?