Challenge to NY Law Requiring Gun Owners to Disclose Social Media Accounts

NY Senate OKs bill barring guns in Times Square, requiring social media info for permit

Zach Williams | NYPostJuly 1, 2022

Your name, date of birth and Twitter handle, please?

The New York state Senate approved sweeping legislation Friday afternoon that would ban concealed weapons from so-called “sensitive locations” like Times Square, public transit and other venues — while requiring gun permit applicants to give the state information about their social media accounts as well as character references.

Lawsuits take aim at New York’s new gun-control rules for carry permits

Zach Williams, Ben Feuerherd and Bruce Golding | NYPost | July 11, 2022

The suit — filed against State Police Superintendent Kevin Bruen by an upstate gun owner and three affiliated gun-rights groups — says the “Concealed Carry Improvement Act” signed by Hochul on July 1 contains a slew of “blatantly unconstitutional” provisions and should be thrown out as unenforceable.

The Northern District of New York filing alleges that Hochul was “unhappy” with last month’s ruling in which the high court struck down a 1913 state law that required permit applicants show “proper cause” for wanting to pack heat.

On appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York — No. 22-CV-986

Christina Maas | Reclaim The Net | February 8, 2023

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

We obtained a copy of the brief for you here.

The amicus brief argues that the requirement would have a chilling effect on the free speech of applicants for concealed carry permits. The law would require them to provide the state government with a list of social media accounts they have used in the last three years, including 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,” said 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.”

Aside from affecting freedom of expression and the right to associate freely online, the groups also argue that the provision would affect marginalized communities who already do not trust law enforcement.

“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,” said 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.”