Updated July 5, 2022 – Concealed Coalition CEO Chris Picou discussed the implications of this data release with Real Clear Politics, citing concern for applicants, as well as assault victims seeking to carry firearms in order to feel safer. Read more here.
The California Attorney General’s office and Department of Justice have landed themselves in some hot water due to negligence surrounding a release of personal information of thousands of the state’s gun owners.
On Monday, the California Department of Justice launched its 2022 Firearms Dashboard Portal in an attempt to improve transparency and increase public trust between law enforcement and citizens. According to the office of Attorney General Rob Bonta, the dashboard was meant to include data on the following subjects:
- Dealer Record of Sales
- Gun Violence Restraining Orders
- Concealed Carry Weapons Permits
- Firearms Safety Certificates
- Assault Weapons
- Roster of Certified Handguns
The dashboard would also provide links to supplemental resources such as reports, applications, legal information, and Frequently Asked Questions.
More Than They Bargained For
However, users quickly realized that the portal also contained publicly accessible files that included identifying information for all Concealed Carry Permit holders within the state that applied for permits between 2011 and 2021. The information included permit holders’ full names, races, home addresses, dates of birth, and dates of permit issuance, in addition to types of permits issued (Standard, Judicial, Reserve, and Custodial), criminal histories, and whether the permit holders are judges or members of law enforcement.
This release of information was not a small one. In Los Angeles County alone, 2,891 people with standard licenses had their information compromised, and the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that “all concealed weapons permit holders in California” were affected. While the DOJ has stated that social security numbers and financial information were not released, personal information may have been exposed on the other gun-related dashboards listed above.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the dashboard appeared to have been disabled on the California DOJ website. Despite the information no longer being live on the site, there are concerns that the information was copied and remains in circulation on social media and other parts of the internet.
The DOJ and AG Respond
In response to the data release, Attorney General Bonta said, “I immediately launched an investigation into how this occurred at the California Department of Justice and will take strong corrective measures where necessary. The California Department of Justice is entrusted to protect Californians and their data. We acknowledge the stress this may cause those individuals whose information was exposed. I am deeply disturbed and angered.”
The DOJ also promised to notify those who were affected by the data release and provide support where necessary. The department offered advice as well, suggesting Californians monitor their credit and consider placing fraud alerts or freezes on their credit reports. Fresno County Sheriff’s Office urged residents to file an online report if they discover they are impacted.
The Response from the Public
Many were outraged by the negligence involved in the release and the risk it presents for those whose information was compromised. Nathan Hochman, a potential challenger to Bonta for the Attorney General’s seat in the fall, pointed out that those doxxed included judges, law enforcement, and domestic violence victims, many of whom sought permits for self-defense purposes. Still others worry that released information of gun owners may lead to their homes and families being targeted by criminals.
After a lawyer from the organization obtained copies of the data, the California Rifle & Pistol Association said it was looking into potential legal action against the state.
At Concealed Coalition, we are deeply troubled by this release of personal identifiable information of California permit holders to the public. This puts legal gun holders, including victims of rape and domestic violence, in danger. Whether accidental or not, this has given bad actors a roadmap for targeting innocent residents. It is disturbing that gun owners who complied with state law now find themselves at risk because of negligence of the state’s Department of Justice.
Given the seriousness of the matter, we believe a full investigation should take place, and the findings should be shared with the public in a timely and transparent manner. A release of information such as this should never happen again, and those responsible must be held accountable.
We will continue to monitor and provide updates as the situation unfolds, advocating for accountability and privacy every step of the way. In the meantime, you can join our Facebook Group to discuss the latest current events and defensive living topics with the Concealed Coalition community.