In-Depth: Will social media review weed out those who shouldn’t carry guns?
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — If you want to get a permit to own and carry a pistol, you’ll need to list all of the social media accounts you’ve had in the past 3 years so they can be reviewed as part of the application process. The requirement is part of new gun control laws passed by the state legislature earlier this month but not everyone is convinced it’s going to work in weeding out those who shouldn’t have a gun.
Several of the recent mass shooters have indicated their intentions on social media platforms well before the attacks and that’s why Governor Kathy Hochul and the members of the state legislature say they included this new social media review in the legislation. But here’s the problem: “Many people who are violent or who commit crimes have accounts not under their real name they use pseudonyms or different monikers,” explains Adam Scott Wandt, a Professor of Public Policy at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
The chances that someone is going to disclose those accounts on a pistol permit application are slim so really, the licensors will be taking people at their word. "This is not a criminal investigation, there is no probable cause to get a warrant here so, law-enforcement won’t be delving into IP addresses and DNS connections and all the other technical stuff that they do,” says Wandt.
In addition to the social media review, the new law also says new applicants must sit for an interview with the licensor. In Monroe County, there are just 7 judges that handle permit applications. If the law were to go into effect today, those 7 judges would have to meet with 2,000 people. "This is another area where there is some questions that remain,” says Monroe County Clerk Jamie Romeo.
Wandt says while the intention of the legislature may be in the interest of public safety, the social media platforms have a responsibility too. "They need to have better algorithms to help identify threatening behavior and bring it to the attention of law enforcement in order for it to be investigated and for people to be properly vetted well before they apply for a concealed firearms permit,” he says.
The safety algorithms differ based on the social media platform someone is using but in light of recent events, many companies have said they are looking at ways to strengthen them.