Should law enforcement be allowed to check a person’s social media posts as part of background checks when purchasing handguns? New York state is considering that possibility and the bill is sparking a new gun control debate across the country.
New York State Senator Kevin Parker’s bill would require people trying to purchase a handgun to turn over login information to allow law enforcement to look at three year’s worth of social media postings. Licenses could be denied if investigators uncover threats of violence, terrorism, or racial or ethic slurs.
Pennsylvania State Senator John Yudichak from Luzerne County does not support the bill. He does not believe a similar bill would ever see the light of day in the Keystone State.
“It sounds like a good idea, but if you look hard at the issue it’s invasive, it’s impractical and almost impossible to execute,” Senator Yudichak said.
Luzerne County Sheriff’s Office does nearly 150 gun permit criminal background checks each week. The sheriff says his staff is already undermanned and overworked.
“To me it comes down to feasibility. Whether or not we’d be able to do it and can we do it efficiently and effectively,” Sheriff Brian Szumski said.
Attorney Barry Dyller handles civil rights cases and he believes social media checks can be used to keep people safe.
“I don’t see any problem with it to the extent that we as a society are doing background checks and that seems like a perfectly legitimate place to see what people are saying to see if they have any bad intent,” Dyller said.
Critics of the New York bill say tracking social media posts would be nearly impossible task since many people use false identities on social media.