Attorney General Bonta to Release Additional Gun Violence Data to Researchers, Initiate Examination of Data Transparency Efforts at Department of Justice
SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced that the California Department of Justice (DOJ) will expand the gun violence related data the Department releases to researchers working with the University of California Firearm Violence Research Center (UCFC). Additionally, the attorney general announced an internal review of all the data DOJ currently collects in order to determine ways to make the data more accessible to the public. Moving forward, Attorney General Bonta will continue to work with state legislators on their efforts to provide clarity about the specific data DOJ may share with qualified researchers.
“Transparency is key to increasing public trust between law enforcement and the communities we serve,” said Attorney General Bonta. “As news of tragic mass shootings continue to dominate the news cycle, leaving many with feelings of fear and uncertainty, one of my priorities as I begin my work as the people’s attorney is to create strategies for providing researchers with the data necessary to help inform new efforts to strengthen California’s commonsense gun laws and keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals.”
Right now, DOJ maintains Open Justice, a public website with dashboards that include data on Gun Violence Restraining Orders, firearm transactions, and crime statistics. The attorney general will review all the data DOJ currently collects and seek opportunities to expand on the data that is published to keep the public informed about the work the Department is doing to combat gun violence and keep the public safe.
DOJ has balanced its duties to provide requested gun violence and firearms data to support research efforts while protecting the personal identifying information in the data the Department collects and maintains. Data-driven research plays a critical role in keeping Californians safe by informing commonsense gun laws. However, while researchers often rely on identifying information to make sense of the data and produce meaningful studies that inform state legislation, current California law does not clearly authorize disclosure of certain categories of firearms data, including confidential personally identifying information.
DOJ will now release Dealer Record of Sale and Automated Firearms System records to researchers working with the UCFC, in compliance with applicable law. Attorney General Bonta will also work with the legislature on laws that will provide concrete guidance about the data the Department can provide qualified researchers.