Publication: Sacramento Bee
Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office is withholding gun violence data from a state-funded research institution tasked by lawmakers with evaluating California’s firearm regulations and also is directing universities to destroy records the agency previously released.
Researchers at the UC Davis California Firearm Violence Research Center say that over the last several years, the Department of Justice has made it increasingly difficult to access data only it maintains, despite a legal mandate to provide the records.
The Legislature in 2016 passed a law to establish and fund the center, which works alongside an existing gun violence research program at UC Davis. The idea was to support independent research to identify policies that best prevent deaths and injuries caused by gun violence.
Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, wrote a measure to confirm the department’s legal responsibility to provide the center and other research institutions with identifying information in their gun ownership-related data.
“There’s no question that it’s not helpful for the Department of Justice to add more restrictive regulations when the Legislature and governor have sent the department a clear signal and mandate that it’s public information,” Ting said. “It’s critical data.”
The department hasn’t taken a position on the bill, but the spokesperson said the agency “notes that the bill acknowledges some of the authorization concerns at issue.”