Court Rejects Challenge to California’s Disclosure of Certain Gun Owner Records to Researchers
From Judge Larry Alan Burns’ decision today in Doe v. Bonta (S.D. Cal.):
Five California registered gun owners have filed suit to prevent Rob Bonta, Attorney General of the State of California, from enforcing a California law that permits the State to disclose their personal identifying information to bona fide research institutions for the ostensible purposes of preventing gun violence, shooting accidents, and suicide….
The gun owners, all of whom are law abiding citizens who passed background checks, raise four claims. First, they argue that AB 173 violates—or at minimum, chills—their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Second, they maintain that disclosing their personal identifying information to non-government researchers violates privacy protections guaranteed to them by the Fourteenth Amendment. Next, they assert that AB 173 violates their right to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment by retroactively expanding access to their restricted personal information. Their final claim, applicable only to applicants for concealed weapon permits (“CCW”) and holders of such permits, is that federal law preempts AB 173 insofar as AB 173 authorizes disclosure of their social security numbers to third parties in derogation of the federal Privacy Act of 1974….
The court rejected the Second Amendment challenge:
Bruen didn’t undo all preexisting gun regulations. Licensing requirements, fingerprinting, background checks, and mandatory gun safety training courses exist in many states and operate as prerequisites to exercising the right to possess and carry firearms. The legitimacy of these longstanding and common regulations was recognized in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) and in McDonald v. Chicago (2010)—a point acknowledged by Bruen….
What one gleans from these qualifications is that there is a difference between prohibiting a right and regulating the right; so long as the regulation of the right to keep and bear arms doesn’t amount to a prohibition of the right, the regulation is permissible. Read together, Heller, McDonald, and Bruen establish that “the Second Amendment is neither a regulatory straightjacket nor a regulatory blank check.” Rather, the cases collectively confirm that the Second Amendment permits laws and regulations that precondition the right to keep and bear arms on the obligation to comply with such ministerial tasks as providing personal identifying information and submitting to a background check—provided that the overall regulatory regime is neither overly discretionary nor overly burdensome. Laws requiri
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