Attorney General Rob Bonta (D.) said California is trying to limit the damage of its gun owner data leak.
Bonta confirmed on Wednesday the leak affected more than just concealed-carry permit holders. While all permit holders in the state were affected, data from the state’s “assault weapons” registry and dealer sales records was also leaked. Information on gun violence restraining orders, the state’s handgun roster, and firearms safety certificates were also part of the breach. The state said “names, date of birth, gender, race, driver’s license number, addresses, and criminal history” were included in the information that was made available on the state’s website for about a day.
The California Department of Justice (DOJ) said it would contact everyone affected by the breach.
“This unauthorized release of personal information is unacceptable and falls far short of my expectations for this department,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “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.”
The comments come after The Reload broke news of the leak on Tuesday. Concealed-carry permit records from Los Angeles reviewed by The Reload showed thousands of people had their personal information leaked. The list of data identified where the permit holders lived, their race, and whether they were members of law enforcement. The release put judges, celebrities, police officers, and regular citizens alike at risk.
The leak has seen tremendous pushback from potentially affected gun owners and gun-rights advocates alike, with many using it as an example of the pitfalls of gun registries. Some, including the California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA), questioned the leak’s timing. The group noted that the leak of concealed carry permit information came just after the Supreme Court struck down “good reason” requirements in the permitting process, which is likely to imperil the state’s current law and encourage many more Californians to obtain permits.
“CRPA is questioning whether this was not simply incompetence, but instead an intentional, malicious act by someone at DOJ to intimidate gun owners as retaliation for the Bruen ruling,” Chuck Michel, CRPA President, said in a statement. “What better way to stop law abiding citizens from trying to get their CCW than by a show of power to dox them all if they dare apply?”
The California DOJ asked anyone with the leaked data not to share it out of respect for the privacy of those affected. It also said using the data for “unlawful purpose may be a crime.” It said the state would offer those affected credit monitoring services.
The DOJ also provided steps Californians could take to protect their identities. It suggested taking advantage of free credit reports and contacting the credit reporting bureaus to ask for “a free credit freeze” that blocks anyone from opening new credit accounts in a person’s name without their permission. It suggested placing a “fraud alert” on credit reports for the same reason.
DOJ offered guidance for anyone who does have their identities stolen too.
“If you are a victim of identity theft, contact your local police department or sheriff’s office right away,” DOJ said in its statement. “You may also report identity theft and generate a recovery plan using the Federal Trade Commission’s website at identitytheft.gov. For more information and resources visit the Attorney General’s website at oag.ca.gov/idtheft.”
Michel said CRPA is still considering taking legal action over the leak but called on Bonta to resign “under the shame of one of the worst data leaks ever seen in this state.” He also called on the state to do more to address the leak in the meantime.
“CRPA demands that an independent investigation commence immediately,” he said. “Further, the Department of Justice must act promptly to be completely transparent about what occurred, take all steps necessary to limit the damage.”