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California Threatens to Compromise Gun Owner Data and Privacy

Monday, May 17, 2021

California Threatens to Compromise Gun Owner Data and Privacy

With a lengthy waiting period, an ever-expanding semi-auto ban, a shrinking handgun roster, and broken background checks on ammunition purchases, California is scraping the constitutional floor with their gun control. In fact, with NRA-backed NYSRPA v. Corlett before the U.S. Supreme Court, we may soon discover that many California jurisdictions’ administration of the state License to Carry statute is well below the constitutional floor. 

Even though gun control advocates in California have created an anti-gun dystopia, that doesn’t mean lawmakers are resting on their laurels. Rather, the civilian disarmament advocates in Sacramento have tasked themselves with inventing ever-more creative ways to harass the increasingly-tarnished “Golden” State’s beleaguered gun owners.

Consider AB1237, introduced by Assemblyman Phil Ting. The bill would undermine gun owner privacy by making it easier for the California Department of Justice to share identifying gun ownership data with anti-gun universities and researchers. As the bill digest states,

The bill would generally require that the information above be made available to researchers affiliated with the California Firearm Violence Research Center at UC Davis, and, at the department’s discretion, be made available to any other nonprofit bona fide research institution or public agency concerned with the study and prevention of violence, for academic and policy research purposes. 

In other words, California intends to share identifying gun ownership data with the California Firearm Violence Research Center, run by gun control activist Garen Wintemute, and any other gun control organization masquerading as a research institution. Given the extreme anti-gun views of the universities and other organizations likely to get ahold of this information, gun owners have every reason for concern.

With the severity of California’s gun control regime, the state collects a massive amount of data on gun owners, much of which this legislation would compromise. The legislation would undermine the privacy of data on:

  •        ammunition sales
  •        firearm precursor part sales
  •        recovered lost or stolen firearms
  •        the application California’s Gun Violence Restraining Order (Red Flag) law
  •        lawful firearm purchasers who later become prohibited persons

Worse, California Attorney General Rob Bonta has announced that, even without this legislation, the California DOJ wants to make more firearm-related data available to so-called “researchers.” In an April 26 press release, Bonta’s office explained, “the California Department of Justice (DOJ) will expand the gun violence related data the Department releases to researchers working with the University of California Firearm Violence Research Center (UCFC).” 

Lamenting current restrictions on the release of identifying data, the release added,

while researchers often rely on identifying information to make sense of the data and produce meaningful studies that inform state legislation, current California law does not clearly authorize disclosure of certain categories of firearms data, including confidential personally identifying information.

California’s efforts to undermine gun owner privacy should be met with opposition not just by gun rights supporters, but by all those who value civil liberties and personal privacy.

Moreover, California’s abuse of gun owner data should serve as an important lesson for gun owners throughout the country. The best way to ensure that anti-gun forces do not abuse gun owner information is to deny them the gun control measures that facilitate collection of this data.

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