Springfield, IL – Illinois lawmakers are consider legislation that would require gun buyers to reveal their social media accounts to law enforcement in order to be approved for a firearms license.
“This is something my community is demanding action on,” said Illinois State Representative Daniel Didech, who proposed the legislation, according to WBBM.
“A lot of people who are having mental health issues will often post on their social media pages that they’re about to hurt themselves or others,” Didech said. “We need to give those people the help they need.”
For once, pro-gun groups and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) are on the same page in objecting to proposed gun-control legislation.
Illinois State Rifle Association Spokesman Richard Pearson told WBBM that everyone who has social media accounts “will be incensed or should be” by the invasion of privacy.
Rebecca Glenberg, of the Illinois ACLU, said the bill “doesn’t say anything about how that list will be retained and for how long and what uses it might be put to,” according to WBBN.
Glenberg said she was worried about law enforcement going through social media accounts and forming a bias based on what they found.
“A person’s political beliefs, a person’s religious beliefs, things that should not play a part in whether someone gets a FOID card,” she told WBBM, referring to an Illinois firearms permit.
But the bill’s author disagreed completely with those assessments.
“It gives Illinois State Police additional tools to make sure that dangerous weapons aren’t getting into the hands of dangerous people,” Didech said.
He said his proposed law is far less intrusive than what is being considered in New York.
In New York, people applying for a pistol permit or renewing a license could have their social media accounts and internet search history reviewed according to a proposed bill in the New York state senate.
State Senator Kevin Parker, a Democrat, and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams drafted the legislation, according to WHAM.
The bill requires that there be social media and search engine reviews before there can be approval of an application or renewal of a license to carry or possess a pistol or revolver.
Social media reviews would go back three years and search engine reviews would go back a year.
WHAM reported that people would have to give up their log-ins and passwords to social media accounts.
The proposed bill would give state and local police ability to investigate for “commonly known profane slurs used or biased language used to describe race, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, disability or sexual orientation; threatening health or safety of another person, or an act of terrorism,” according to WHAM.
“Most times, when you have these shooting incidents, there are breadcrumbs in social media plainly visible things. What can be done about that?” said State Assemblywoman-elect Jamie Romeo, according to WHAM. “While I respect his proposal, there’s a lot of enforcement problems with that, I think.”
Gates Police Chief James VanBrederode said mental health history and domestic violence is better at predicting gun violence.
“We chase down these social media threats,” VanBrederode said, according to WHAM. “And very few are ever legitimate, because it’s easy to sit behind a keyboard and say something bad or do like that. I would even agree that this has become a violation of your privacy rights.”
New Yorkers interviewed by WHAM had mixed reaction to the proposed bill.
“I think it would help,” said Sarah Stade, according to WHAM. “You never know what people on the Internet are searching. You can have person that’s a normal everyday person to someone else, and you go into their search history or their home and it’s totally different.”
Others were opposed.
“I’ve always thought anything that’s passcode worthy is yours; it’s private,” said Glenn Moses, according to WHAM. “To have any rights to get your passwords and go through your accounts and maintain your accounts, that’s just horrible.”