A state appellate court panel has ruled that California can continue implementation of a law that allows the state to share gun owners’ information with gun violence researchers, overturning a San Diego judge’s decision to block the law.
The ruling concerns AB 173, which amended state laws to allow disclosure of registered gun and ammunition owners’ personal information to researchers studying gun violence at UC Davis and other institutions.
A lawsuit challenging AB 173 was filed last year on behalf of San Diego County resident Ashleymarie Barba and a number of gun rights groups.
While San Diego Superior Court Judge Katherine Bacal issued a preliminary injunction last year blocking AB 173’s implementation, that decision was overturned by a Friday ruling from the Fourth District Court of Appeal.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta applauded the decision in a statement released this week, saying “The court’s decision is a victory in our ongoing efforts to prevent gun violence. AB 173’s information-sharing serves the important goal of enabling research that supports informed policymaking aimed at reducing and preventing firearm violence. Research and data are vital in our efforts to prevent gun violence in California and provide a clear path to help us save lives.”
Earlier this year, a San Diego federal judge dismissed a separate lawsuit that also challenged AB 173. That decision remains under appeal.
Both lawsuits alleged AB 173 violated the privacy rights of gun owners.
The law requires the Department of Justice to provide firearm and ammunition owners’ data collected during purchases with the UC Davis-based Firearm Violence Research Center. The center, established in 2017 as the nation’s first publicly funded research center on the subject, examines the causes and consequences of firearm violence and aims to address firearm violence prevention by working with policymakers.
Garen J. Wintemute, director of the Firearm Violence Research Center, called the decision “an important victory for science” and said, “It reaffirms the value of objective evidence in understanding and intervening on important health problems, firearm violence among them. For more than 30 years, researchers at UC Davis and elsewhere have used the data in question to conduct vital research that simply couldn’t be done anywhere else. We’re glad to be able to return to that important work, which will improve health and safety here in California and across the country.”
–City News Service