Gun permits and social media: Newly proposed bill mandates online screening

Gun permits and social media: Newly proposed bill mandates online screening. (Source: WEAR-TV)

A new bill, proposed by New York State Senator Kevin Parker, aims at stopping the wrong people from getting their hands on guns.

While the bill would only apply to those in New York, many are criticizing it, stating it would likely delay the permit process by years.

About half of the customers who walk into Mike's Outdoor Sports every day are looking to buy a handgun, but this new bill aims at limiting the amount of people who can get their hands on a firearm.

The bill comes down to social media monitoring for anyone who applies for a handgun license, disqualifying those with violent or threatening posts.

Store manager, Stan Butler says the bill would just lengthen an already stringent process.

"You're finger printed, you answer incriminating questions, everything about that process is looked at from a to z," said Butler. "It takes months and months to process one now, so it would make it almost impossible, and I think that's probably where they're heading with it."

It would be up to police officers to comb through three years' worth of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram posts (as well as search histories) looking for red flags; tying up resources already spread thinly.

"Police departments across the country are already short staffed with the loads that they currently have," said Pensacola Police Officer, Mike Wood. "I can't imagine what this would do to them after that... The logistics... We just don't have the manpower."

That lack of manpower wood says, would lead to major delays in the permitting process, and that is not the only kink.

"There are a lot of people who don't have computers, who don't use social media, who don't have searches," said Wood. "So, are you going to deny them the right to own a weapon?"

Inspired by recent mass shootings, Butler understands the basis of the bill and agrees there needs to be some kind of change, just not like this.

"You can't regulate evil, so how do you regulate that?" asked Butler. "I don't know what the answer is, I don't know."

An interview request, sent to Senator Parker's office went unanswered.

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