New York gun law requires review of permit seekers’ social media, faces likely legal challenge

New statute passed Friday takes effect Sept. 1, and is expected to be challenged immediately.

Updated: July 3, 2022 - 9:15am

Harshly rebuked by the Supreme Court for its historical restrictions on gun permits, New York appears to have set up a new legal challenge by passing a law that requires gun owners to undergo a review of their social media before getting permission to carry.

The new law passed Friday by the Democratic-led New York legislature and signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul requires permit seekers to provide a list of their social media accounts to verify their character and conduct.

The law, which takes effect Sept. 1, also requires a permit seeker to provide four character references, deliver contact information for their spouse, domestic partner or other adults living in their home and undergo extensive firearms training and periodic background checks.

Legal experts said the law raised serious 1st and 2nd Amendment concerns and almost certainly will be challenged in court immediately.

“The law seems another overreach by the state,” George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley tweeted Saturday. “New York has thus far been about as effective in curtailing gun rights as Monty Python’s ‘Judean People’s Front Crack Suicide Squad’ was effective in combating Roman occupation.

“The new firearm law will take effect on September 1. A challenge is expected no later than September 2,” he added.

Gun rights advocates in New York said the new law was passed in direct defiance of June’s historic Supreme Court ruling striking down the state’s century-old handgun restrictions.  

"Gov. Hochul and her anti-Second Amendment allies in Albany have defied the United States Supreme Court with an intentionally malicious rewriting of New York's concealed carry law," Darin Hoens, the New York NRA state director, said.

Hochul argues the new law is needed because gun owners with ill intent often telegraph their intentions on social media.

The Supreme Court, however, made clear in its 6-3 ruling late last month that it would look harshly upon new laws that placed heavy burdens on gun owners to get a permit to carry firearms or that limited such permits to those with special circumstances. 

“We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the majority ruling.

“That is not how the First Amendment works when it comes to unpopular speech or the free exercise of religion. It is not how the Sixth Amendment works when it comes to a defendant’s right to confront the witnesses against him. And it is not how the Second Amendment works when it comes to public carry for self-defense.” 

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