Gun Buyers Shouldn't be Required to Share Social Media with Police, ACLU Says

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February 7, 2019

By Amanda Weston

A new bill in Illinois would require potential gun buyers to reveal their public social media accounts to state police. The ACLU is now speaking out against the idea, citing privacy and bias concerns.

"The things that social media would show are one's political views, perhaps one's religion, and even in some instances someone's race," Edwin Yohnka, director of communications and public policy at ACLU of Illinois, told Cheddar.

"And you know, how are those things then going to factor into that decision about whether or not to let someone purchase a firearm? It's just not something that really provides additional information that's useful, and at the same time provides an invasion into someone's personal beliefs that just isn't required for this purpose."

Yohnka said social media typically doesn't reveal more relevant information ー like a potential buyer's arrest record or whether there are restraining orders against that person.

The bill from Illinois State Rep. Daniel Didech comes just before the one-year anniversary of the fatal shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. After the attack, disturbing posts on the accused shooter's social media came to light.

“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,” the Illinois Democrat told CBS Chicago. “We need to give those people the help they need.”

But Yohnka pointed to the state's "red flag" law, under which family members, law enforcement, and roommates can petition a judge to allow authorities to temporarily take guns away from those who are found to pose a danger to themselves or others.

"There is a vehicle and a mechanism for protecting the public in that particular case, as opposed to this general sort of sweeping thing of looking through everybody's data," Yohnka said.

For full interview click here.