Tuesday, December 5, 2023

California Can Share Gun Data Over Owners’ Privacy Objections

California can continue to provide identifying information about gun owners to a research center, a state appeals court has ruled, overturning a preliminary injunction that favored the gun rights group because the trial court did not consider the state’s interest in gun violence research.

Gun rights groups have not effectively rejected California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s evidence about the public health effects of gun violence or the need to conduct empirical research on gun policies. trial court, the California Court of Appeals for the Fourth District ruled Friday. Because the trial court did not include the state’s established interest in its analysis, it failed to meet the second prong of a two-part test for privacy claims, wrote Associate Justice Julia C. Kelety in an unpublished opinion.

The appeals court sent the case back to the trial court to enter an order denying the preliminary injunction.

State law requires California to keep records of nearly all transfers of firearms and ammunition. The legislature directed the Regents of the University of California in 2016 to create a Firearm Violence Research Center and amended state law in subsequent years to ensure that the state provides all necessary data, including information, to the center if requested.

California gun owner Ashleymarie Barba, the Firearms Policy Coalition, Inc., the Second Amendment Foundation, and several local gun owner groups collectively sued Bonta in 2022, saying the changes violate their right to privacy under the state constitution. Bonta appealed the trial court’s preliminary injunction that year that prohibited the state from sending personal information to the center.

The trial court used the standard for reviewing a complaint against a general demurrer rather than the standard for obtaining a preliminary injunction, the appeals court said.

Gun owner groups argue that it should be presumed that the court used the correct analysis even if it did not explain its findings for each element of the test, particularly because the trial court named the correct basis for its decision.

Benbrook Law Group represented Barba.

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