It was bad on Tuesday.
But when all the facts were discovered Wednesday, the bad became downright diabolical.
On June 28, 2022, it was reported that California gun owners have been put at risk by the California’s Attorney General’s office after a new “dashboard” disclosed the personal data of every Concealed Carry Weapons Permit (CCW) holder in the state.
Wednesday’s revelation, however, revealed even more stunning information. In addition to data on all CCW holders and applicants for the past 10 years, the Assault Weapon Registry and the entire Dealer Record of Sale database were also made public. This means the public now knows the personal information of everyone who has purchased or sold any firearm in California, individuals with Firearm Safety Certificates, and those who are on the Gun Violence Restraining Order list.
CCW holders are among the most law-abiding subsection of people in the entire country. This is a fact, however, that is routinely ignored by leftist politicians and the media. According to California’s Department of Justice, the leak impacted applications from 2011 to 2021 and included “names, date of birth, gender, race, driver’s license number, addresses, and criminal history.”
California’s Attorney General Rob Bonta is either grossly negligent, completely incompetent or criminally liable. If this is his idea of increasing public trust, there’s no hope for the future. Endangering the lives of thousands of law-abiding Californians means Bonta should resign immediately.
Let’s be clear: this was not a breach; it was a leak. No bad actor broke into the DOJ system to access the information. The DOJ, either through incompetence or with malicious intent leaked the data. This violation of trust has far-reaching consequences as it impacts people who have firearms in their home and those who don’t. It’s like a neon sign advertising “there’s guns here to steal” and the flip side is “this home is unarmed and vulnerable.” Hundreds of thousands of Californians have been put in harm’s way in the very place where they should feel the most safe — their homes.
On Wednesday, June 29, Bonta issued a press release in which he updated the depth and breadth of the data leak. The statement was tantamount to a “gee, I’m sorry” or a “my bad” confession. The AG is offering access to software that affected individuals can use to protect from identity theft and recommended that everyone contact the three major credit bureaus to put a freeze on their credit reports. That’s it. This offers little comfort to those whose private data has been exposed on the internet, never to be retrieved or removed. In essence, Bonta offered a Band-Aid to cover a bullet wound.
It’s important to note that judges, prosecutors and reserve law enforcement officers are among those whose private identifying information has been made public. Such high-profile people have every reason to protect their addresses from vindictive criminals. We must not, however, ignore that there are thousands of vulnerable individuals who have now been potentially exposed to their abusers. At Gun Owners of California (GOA), we have been flooded with phone calls from people who are primarily concerned that their home addresses and private information has been revealed. Regardless of whether someone is high profile or not, everyone has the same right of privacy and must be equally protected under the law. The DOJ data leak was a massive breakdown in the public trust that could have very real life or death implications.
Any semblance of trust that gun owners may have had in the Department of Justice has long evaporated, but with this latest failure, it’s been irreparably damaged. Attorney General Rob Bonta should take responsibility and resign – with great shame. Lives are now in grave danger thanks to him.
Sam Paredes is Executive Director of Gun Owners of California and a member of the Board of Directors of both Gun Owners of America and Gun Owners Foundation. He is based in El Dorado Hills, California.