New York Faces Legal Challenge Over Law Compelling Gun Owners to Share Their Social Media Accounts to Government

The Knight First Amendment Institute and five gun owners’ associations filed an amicus brief at the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit supporting a lawsuit taking on a provision in New York’s Concealed Carry Improvement Act that would mandate applicants to supply the government with a list of their social media accounts.

In the amicus brief, the parties contend that the requirement would have a chilling effect on applicants’ free speech for concealed carry permits. This law would mandate them to share with the state government a list of social media accounts they have used in the past three years, which includes pseudonymous accounts.

“While New York plainly has a legitimate interest in regulating concealed carry, its regulations must conform to the First Amendment, and this particular provision of New York’s new gun law does not,” stated Knight First Amendment Institute’s attorney Anna Diakun. “Not only has the state failed to demonstrate that the social media registration requirement will actually further its goals, but it has also failed to acknowledge its costs: It will have a profound impact on the right to speak anonymously and associate privately online, and it will invite discrimination by licensing officials.”

In addition to impacting free speech and freedom of association rights  online, the groups also contended that the provision would negatively affect marginalized communities who already have little trust in law enforcement institutions. 

“The state’s dragnet social media registration requirement goes far beyond what is necessary, and will set a dangerous precedent for broad intrusions on individuals’ First Amendment rights,” declared Katie Fallow, senior counsel at the Knight Institute. “If the New York law is allowed to stand, one can easily imagine the government imposing these requirements in any number of other situations.”

New York is a laboratory for tyranny as one of the most anti-gun states in the nation. It’s ranked dead last at 51st place, per Guns & Ammo magazine’s best states for gun owners rankings. On top of that, free speech rights are hardly respected in the state. Given how New York is practically a one-party state, many freedom-loving individuals may have to move to more freedom-minded states just to live in peace.

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