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In Illinois? If You Want To Buy A Gun, First Hand Over A List Of Your Social Media Accounts

February 10, 2019

A Democratic Party state lawmaker in Illinois has introduced legislation that requires people aiming to purchase a gun to first submit their social media accounts to authorities. The goal, the lawmaker says, is to keep the citizenry safe from potential gun owners who may be mentally ill and/or violent and whose social media accounts show they are unfit for gun ownership.

According to Fox News, Illinois state Rep. Daniel Didech, said that a “lot of people” who have “mental health issues will often post” things on their social media accounts that suggest they intend to hurt others or themselves. Didech reportedly said that giving authorities access to such social media accounts will get such people “the help they need.”

Fox News reports that the bill’s proponents cited recent highly-publicized shootings in which the perpetrators had at some point before their assaults posted “very disturbing” things on their accounts.

The New Boston Post notes that Didech’s legislation seeks to amend the state’s Firearm Owners Identification Card Act, or FOID, by demanding that “each applicant for a [FOID] shall furnish to the Department of State Police a list of every social media account.” [See page 9, lines 19-21] The amendment does not, however, specify what is meant by “every social media account.”

The amendment also permits the Department of State Police to search those accounts. [See page 2, lines 12-17]

The Post can also confirm the proposed amendment does not mention how non-disclosure will be treated by authorities; or how anonymous social media accounts, arguably hacked accounts, or comments on accounts not belonging to the writer, will be handled. The amendment also does not outline what law enforcement authorities can and should do if a social media background check proves problematic after a FOID was approved by authorities; and the amendment does not show any time limit to police surveillance of a FOID holder’s social media accounts.

According to Fox News, Didech’s proposed amendment faces bipartisan opposition, as well as opposition from the American Civil Liberties Union.

 

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