California Permitted to Share Gun Owners' Personal Information with Researchers

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California Permitted to Share Gun Owners' Personal Information with Researchers
Short Title California Permitted to Share Gun Owners' Personal Information with Researchers
Location California, United States
Date 21 November 2023

Solove Harm Disclosure, Secondary Use, Identification
Information Names, Addresses, Phone Numbers, Criminal Record, Some personal info
Threat Actors California Department of Justice

Affected Gun Owners
High Risk Groups Gun owners in the state of california
Tangible Harms Loss of Privacy, Potential Misuse of Personal Data, Change of feelings or perception

A recent decision by a state appeals court has overturned a lower court judge's ruling from last year which has now allowed California to persist in sharing personal information of gun owners with credible researchers for the purpose of studying gun violence.


Within the past few weeks, a decision by a California state appeals court has permitted the state to continue sharing personal information of gun owners with researchers who aim to study gun violence. This reverses a previous ruling that deemed such data sharing a violation of privacy rights. In 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom first signed a law enabling the Department of Justice to share identifying information of over 4 million gun owners for research purposes. The collected data was obtained through the information collected by background checks which includes names, addresses, phone numbers, and criminal records, amongst other variables. However, many gun owners felt threatened by the Disclosure of their personal information without their consent. With the comprehensive details background checks consist of, gun owners were also subject to Identification by external parties - the research organizations - to whom they did not specifically consent. What's more is that their personal data was also subject to Secondary Use as it was primarily collected for the purpose of passing the background check - not for studying firearm tendencies and accidents. Despite more recent legal challenges from gun owners and organizations arguing privacy violations, the appeals court panel emphasized the state's interest in studying and preventing gun violence, accidents, and suicides. This decision comes amid ongoing legal challenges to various gun measures in California, with the state's Attorney General, Rob Bonta, expressing the ruling as a victory for efforts to prevent gun violence. The law, once implemented, will resume providing information to researchers. Garen Wintemute, director of the California Firearm Violence Research Center at the University of California, welcomed the decision, emphasizing its importance for advancing scientific research on gun violence.

Laws and Regulations

There were no laws and regulations violated necessarily - rather the introduction of a new law and the overturning of a ruling