Late last year I covered a story out of New York, in which law makers wanted people who wanted to be gun owners to have to submit three years worth of social media and internet search history to the police for review in order to obtain a gun permit.
A law maker in Illinois caught wind of that idea and decided to put forward a bill to make social media history part of the background check process to obtain a Firearms Owner Identity card (FOID).
I swear, there are half a dozen states – New York, Illinois, New Jersey, California, Massachusetts, Connecticut – that as soon as one passes a super restrictive law or finds something new to tax, the other states go all “hold my beer” and try to out tyrant the others.
That’s why Didech is proposing gun buyers reveal their public social media accounts to Illinois police before they’re approved for a firearm license.
“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.”
If this was about giving people the help they need, why are they filtering it through the FOID system?
Furthermore, I didn’t think the state bureaucrats who worked for the ISP processing FOID applications were mental health experts.
Pro-gun groups are outraged.
“When people look at this everyone who has a Facebook account or email account or Twitter account will be incensed or should be,” said Richard Pearson with the Illinois State Rifle Association.
Yes, they should be.
But the ACLU is opposed as well.
Rebecca Glenberg with ACLU Illinois says 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.”
I said this before about New York City’s abuse of gravity knife laws:
If you are a politician, and you manage to unite the NRA and ACLU against you, that is absolute proof that you are being a tyrannical fucking asshole and you need to stop doing what you are doing.
Yes, I am aware in this case, it is the ISLA, but the principle is the same.
The first amendment group worries police scanning social media may show bias.
“A person’s political beliefs, a person’s religious beliefs, things that should not play a part in whether someone gets a FOID card,” Glenberg said.
Wow, the ACLU of Illinois has a principled, intelligent person on their staff. He’s dead right, of course. All you need is someone working for the ISP who agrees with Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon, that MAGA hats are the new Klan hood and Trump supporters are racist “Trumpanzees” to see that some FOID applicant liked a Trump 2020 Facebook page and that application will get rejected.
After three years in Chicago, I know people like that work for the state government.
But Didech isn’t deterred.
“It gives Illinois State Police additional tools to make sure that dangerous weapons aren’t getting into the hands of dangerous people,” he said.
I highly doubt that. What it will do is keep FOID cards out of the hands of law abiding citizens that say things the Illinois state bureaucrats don’t like.
Didech says his bill is a less intrusive version of a similar measure that’s been proposed in New York state. That version allows police to recover a gun license applicant’s entire browsing history. Even Didech says that goes too far.
Oh gee. Illinois gets to look at your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram but not your whole Google search history. That’s totally better.
Oh wait, no it’s not.
I found the text of the bill, HB0888.
Amends the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act. Provides that the Department of State Police shall conduct a search of the purchasers’ social media accounts available to the public to determine if there is any information that would disqualify the person from obtaining or require revocation of a currently valid Firearm Owner’s Identification Card. Provides that each applicant for a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card shall furnish to the Department of State Police a list of every social media account.
This is the text the bill wants to add to the FOID law:
The Department of State Police shall conduct a search of the purchasers’ social media accounts available to the public to determine if there is any information that would disqualify the person from obtaining or require revocation of a currently valid Firearm Owner’s Identification Card.
Every social media account available to the public? What does that mean? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr? What if you set your account to private? That seems like too easy a way to get around this law.
What about internet forums? Are you an AR15.com?
What if you are on Stormfront? I hate Illinois Nazis, but they have rights.
What other internet profiles can they look at? What about your Ashley Madison account that you don’t want your wife to know about? What if you are on Grindr but are not out of the closet yet? Does the ISP get to look at your dating profile on eHarmony? How about your PornHub account?
How will the ISP know if you gave them all of your accounts? Will they search your name and if something pops up that you didn’t turn over, will they deny you?
What if you don’t have Facebook or Twitter or Instagram? I don’t. I’m 35, so I probably should, but I got off Facebook 11 years ago and every time I think I should go back, I read another horror story of how it has become a cesspool and I figure it’s not worth it.
Will my lack of social media be held against me because as a 35 year old I should have Facebook and since I didn’t turn that over the ISP assumes I’m lying?
There is just too much wrong here for this bill to become law, but I don’t think that will stop it.
However, this bill leads me to a couple of thoughts. With New York and Illinois proposing this, you know that California will be next.
If or when that happens, it will be elevated to the national debate.
Gun rights advocates have said that UBCs make no sense without gun registration.
Is that what is next for social media. I can set up a Facebook page for a fictitious person. I can create and anonymous Tumblr account. Is the next step going to be some sort of social media registration where your accounts are tied to your actual ID using verifiable data, e.g. SSN?
What if your Facebook page is all mundane but you have a second account that uses a handle from which you lash out with hate and bile? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of this bill?
It seems like we are heading into some dangerous territory here.
If this bill gets close to passing, I can think of a good way of combating it. Just start signing politicians and bureaucrats up for every horrible fetish forum on the internet.
I would love to see someone ask Rep. Didech:
“Representative Didech, we decided to check up on your social media account. Your Facebook page is clean but you said some pretty racist things on TrannyGranny Forum, would you care to comment on that?”