(WSYR-TV) – In an effort to tighten up New York State gun laws, Governor Kathy Hochul signed a legislation package earlier this month to bolster restrictions on concealed-carry weapons.
Some laws have already taken effect, but one new rule will require those looking to carry a concealed handgun to hand over their social media accounts for a review of their character and conduct come September 1st.
As investigations into mass shootings like Buffalo, Uvalde and Highland Park continue, missed warning signs keep pilling up. In an effort to close loopholes, New York hopes a review of all concealed handgun applicants’ social media accounts will help change that.
However, some people, especially those tasked with enforcing it, are wondering how its possible to do.
NewsChannel 9 spoke with the Executive Director of the New York Sheriffs’ Association, Peter Kehoe, and asked if they are enough resources to enforce this new law.
In New York, background checks are traditionally completed by sheriffs offices in the counties. Kehoe says concerns are growing whether there are enough resources for law enforcement agencies to handle this new component of the application process. As of now, sheriffs haven’t received additional money or staffing for this.
I don’t believe there is any funding, and we don’t have the resources to do what they’re requiring to be done here. That’s another part of what we see wrong with this law is that they’ve set up rules for citizens that really can’t be followed because they require certain training and the training is not available. We don’t have the resources to do it, and we have a lot of problems with the philosophy.
PETER KEHOE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NY SHERIFFS’ ASSOCIATION
Kehoe also says there seem to be problems with whether the new gun laws are even constitutional.
When asked if there are any benefits to requiring review of social media accounts from a law enforcement perspective, Kehoe believes law-abiding gun owners are more impacted than criminals.
A criminal is probably not going to apply for a license and if they do, they’re probably not going to reveal their social media accounts where they are expressing their intent to commit a crime. So, really the only people that are burdened by this statute is the innocent, law-abiding citizen who needs or wants to have a permit to carry their weapon.
PETER KEHOE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NYS SHERIFFS’ ASSOCIATION
Under this legislation, New Yorkers applying for a handgun carry license will also have to provide four references and turn over their spouse or partner’s contact information and any other adults living in the home.
Onondaga County District Attorney, Bill Fitzpatrick, sent NewsChannel 9 the following statement in response to the new gun laws.
Unfortunately and once again predictably the NYS Legislature has seen fit to burden local prosecutors, Sheriffs and law abiding citizens with an unenforceable statute. Had the legislators taken the time to consult with those whom they task with enforcing this law the statute would have been drafted far differently. What is the definition of “social media” contemplated by the statute? None provided. What mechanism is in place to verify the applicant’s assertion that he or she doesn’t use any form of social media, however it’s defined? None. How is anyone supposed to know if the applicant posts comments under a false name? Not addressed. What resources have been provided to sheriff’s offices to meet the incredibly time consuming demand of poring through thousands of pages of social media posts? Not a dime. In light of the unprecedented rise in juvenile violence due primarily to ill conceived statutes regarding bail reform and raising the age of criminal responsibility, the Legislature in less than a week chose to focus its attention not on the criminals, but on the law abiding citizens seeking to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights. Just incredible.
BILL FITZPATRICK, ONONDAGA COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY
Jaclyn Schildkraut, SUNY Oswego professor and national mass shooting expert, says social media is often a double edged sword.
It’s helpful to identify a shooter if they post their intentions and threats on their social media accounts, but it also gives shooters an outlet to promote their work.
Schildkraut said the key for all of us is to identify pre-attack behaviors, implement policies to address them, and make sure we respond when we have the apocopate information at hand.