Restricting Public Data To Ideological Allies In California

To put things into perspective, imagine if Congress or any state legislature passed a bill stating that all the key research data on abortions would, by law, be given to researchers with the National Right-To-Life Committee and that any other requests for this same public health data would be approved only at the discretion of the White House. Do you think the media would jump on the issue with both feet? Moreover, how quickly would lawsuits be filed seeking injunctions by groups like the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and the National Abortion Rights Action League?

That is essentially the case in California with a bill (SB 536) sitting on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk concerning the data about gun violence restraining orders. It automatically is available to well-known anti-gun researcher Dr. Garen Wintemute and his Gun Violence Research Center. All other requests for this same research data would be at the discretion of the California Department of Justice. This is the same DOJ that was headed by virulently anti-gun rights Attorney General Kamala Harris (D-CA) and is now headed by equally anti-gun rights Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D-CA).

Does anyone think this DOJ would allow the data to go to Dr. John Lott and his Crime Prevention Research Center?

Gun rights activists in California are rightly upset and wary of this bill. They are asking Gov. Brown to veto the bill. The release from the Firearms Policy Coalition on the bill is below:

Bill Promoting Unequal Access to Public Data is on Gov. Jerry Brown’s Desk

SACRAMENTO, CA (September 20, 2017) — Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) is asking Governor Jerry Brown to veto Senate Bill 536, a measure which provides unequal access to data for the
purpose of researching Gun Violence Restraining Orders (GVRO).

SB 536, by Senator Richard Pan (D – Sacramento), requires the Department of Justice (DOJ) to make information relating to GVROs that is maintained in the California Restraining and
Protective Order System or any similar database available to researchers affiliated with the University of California Firearm Violence Research Center. It does not, however, require DOJ to make the same data available to other organizations for the purpose
of research.

“While we do appreciate a passing thought given to others whose research may benefit from this data, to state that such access is ‘…at the discretion of the department…’ places all
other requestors at a significant disadvantage,” said Craig DeLuz, Spokesman for Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC).

“This allows the DOJ to pick favorites with sensitive data that is needed to hold the research center accountable.”

The Gun Violence Research Center at UC Davis was created in 2016 by legislation that amounted to a sole source contract with Dr. Garen Wintemute, a gun control advocate who has been
producing anti-gun research for decades. Under SB 536 that same biased researcher will have unfettered access to key research data, while others will be required to get special approval from DOJ.

“This measure ensures that only those that are ideological similar are going to have access to the data that supports this publicly funded research,” notes DeLuz. “If public data,
collected by public employees, using public tax dollars to study a public policy is to be made available to anyone, it should be public.”

SB 536 is now on the desk of Governor Jerry Brown, awaiting his signature or veto.


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