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New Pistol Permit Requirements Proposed In New York

A bill authored by Sen. Kevin Parker, D-Brooklyn, would require a background check of an individual’s social media and internet search engine history, when applying for, or renewing his or her pistol permit.

The bill, S9191, mandates pistol permit applicants to consent to an inspection of their social media accounts and search engine history as far as three (3) years back. To accomplish this, applicants would be required to divulge the existence of all of their social media accounts, including their user IDs and passwords.  The bill defines “social media accounts” as Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and instagram.”  Meanwhile, “search engines” include Google, Yahoo and Bing.  

Under the proposed legislation, law enforcement officials could investigate “commonly known profane slurs used, or biased language used to describe race, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, disability or sexual orientation; threatening health or safety of another person, or an act of terrorism…”  The findings would then be shared with those agencies issuing the permits.

According to Sen. Parker and the bill’s supporters, its purpose is to “keep firearms out of the hands of people who may be violent.”  However, critics say the bill would violate an individual’s constitutional rights on several fronts, in addition to adding more time, complexity and complication to a process that can already take more than two (2) years in some counties.

The bill still has a way to go before it is passed or rejected. To date, there is no co-sponsor, but it has been referred to the Senate Rules Committee. There is no vote currently scheduled.

The proposed bill may be accessed here: https://legislation.nysenate.gov/pdf/bills/2017/S9191

About the author:

Craig H. Handler, Esq. is an experienced attorney focusing his practice on complex commercial, construction, real estate, technology and insurance matters. He is also a Judge Advocate assigned to the 7th Legal Support Detachment, 88th Brigade, New York Army Guard.  Mr. Handler is life-long sportsman and a certified firearms safety instructor.