law that provided names and other information about gun owners to researchers analyzing the effectiveness of
restraining orders was blocked by a judge, who ruled it may violate the privacy rights of gun owners.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Katherine Bacal ordered a preliminary injunction against the state’s Assembly Bill 173 last week.
“Accordingly, plaintiffs have shown that the balance of harms weighs in favor of issuing the injunction,” she wrote in her order on Friday, noting that the law’s provisions threatened the privacy rights of gun owners.
signed the bill into law last September and requested that Attorney General Rob Bonta (D) send personal information on gun purchasers to the state Firearm Violence Research Center at the University of California, Davis.
Gun owners’ information included when and where they purchased their guns, as well as details about the buyers’ names, addresses, dates of birth, and what they purchased. The research center was also authorized to share the data with other research institutions outside UC Davis.
Bacal, an appointee of former Republican Gov.
, noted that the state accused the plaintiffs of failing to “establish irreparable harm” because the information in question has already been shared with researchers as nearly as November 2021.
“Yet this does not account for the potential ongoing and future harms that could occur by continuous use of the information,” Bacal said, referring to a June data
that prompted the California Justice Department to remove its Firearms Dashboard Portal from its website.
“Furthermore, and while this motion has been pending, a
massive data breach
reportedly occurred that leaked personal identifying information from the firearm databases for concealed carry applicants in or about June of 2022,” the judge added.
The Firearms Policy Coalition, one of several gun advocacy groups that challenged the California law, lauded Bacal’s decision as a victory for gun rights, as well as privacy rights.
“The California government has proven time and time again that it can’t be trusted with the private personal information of its residents,”
FPC Director of Legal Operations Bill Sack. “Today’s ruling reinforces what FPC has been arguing all along; that you needn’t be forced to open your front door to immoral government intrusion in order to exercise your fundamental rights.”
California Rifle & Pistol Association President Chuck Michel told the Washington Examiner in June that the published data on gun owners could cause the “doxing of law-abiding gun owners,” that is, the potential for someone to share information online about the location of a gun owner for malicious intent.
Bonta issued a statement after the decision expressing disappointment, adding that “research and collaboration would help protect our communities from gun violence and save lives.”
“We will continue this fight in court,” Bonta added.
The Washington Examiner contacted Bonta’s office and the Firearm Violence Research Center at UC Davis.