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Local experts weigh in on new concealed carry legislation

Posted at 6:42 PM, Jul 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-12 18:42:48-04

BUFFALO (WKBW) — It was what Governor Kathy Hochul called swift action in the face of "a monumental setback by the Supreme Court".

The Governor signing new gun legislation including new guidelines for concealed carry permits which would require applicants to supply their social media accounts for review.

7 News reached out to some local experts for their thoughts on the new requirements and the process of collecting social media data for applicants.

"I think they can legitimately ask for a person to disclose their social media account", attorney Peter Vasilion said to 7 New Anchor Jeff Russo. "I think it becomes less constitutionally sound if they are using an investigator letter to have a provider provide a history. That is more invasive."

Vasilion, who has twenty years of experience working as an attorney on gun rights, says it's not necessarily the social media requirement that he has an issue with, but rather how the information gathered will be interpreted.

"They are asking for the information to determine whether or not the person possesses sufficient good moral character. That is subjective. That's what I would have a problem with. I would want a more bright lined subjective determination of what constitutes permissible free speech and what law enforcement thinks is problematic."

Arun Vishwanath is a cybersecurity expert who is surprised by the new guidelines. " I have never seen anything like this", said Vishwanath.

Vishwanath says that implementing a program to sift through years of social media records is going to be difficult.

"This is hard to do because a lot of this is nuanced. It requires context and when we look at "these guns in the wrong hands" we are talking about edge cases. What is an edge case? An edge case is an extreme case. It's going to be the one person that you missed that didn't have those obvious tells.", said Vishwanath.

Legal challenges have already popped up including one filed on Monday in the Southern District of New York by California attorney Jonathan Corbett. "The Governor is entitled to disagree with the Supreme Court's holding that Americans have the right to bear arms outside of the home, but she cannot circumvent the court's ruling by finding new ways to make it impossible for the ordinary, law-abiding citizen to secure a gun license.", Corbett said in a statement to 7 News.

Still Governor Hochul defended the new regulations on Tuesday. "We are doing everything despite the Supreme Court and the despite the fact that there are a lot of pressures and voices against what we are doing. We are going to continue to stand up to protect New Yorkers."