Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

Breaches in Australia and California Show Danger of Centralized Gun Owner Data

Friday, January 27, 2017

Breaches in Australia and California Show Danger of Centralized Gun Owner Data

Gun rights supporters understand that gun licensing and registration facilitates gun confiscation. Centralized data on gun owners and firearms has long been used to institute subsequent gun controls in the U.S. and abroad. For instance, in 1967 New York City enacted a law requiring that all rifles and shotguns be registered. In 1991 and 2013, in an effort to enforce subsequent restrictions on commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms, the NYPD sent out letters to the registered owners of these guns, ordering them to remove the firearm from the jurisdiction, make the firearm inoperable, or turn it over to the police.

Less discussed, but similarly important, are the severe privacy implications attendant to centralized gun owner data. The mere existence of such data poses a persistent threat to gun owner privacy, even when the government is not acting with malice.

Earlier this month, the privacy of gun owners in Australia’s second most-populous state was violated when the Victorian Government accidentally released the private information of 8,709 licensed gun owners. Australian law requires all gun owners to be licensed.

According to an account from the Australian Broadcasting Company, the breach occurred while staff at Victoria’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) were attempting to email renewal forms to licensees. Rather than sending licensees the renewal forms, the staff accidently attached files containing the personal information - including names and addresses - of thousands of gun owners. According to the report, this occurred on eight occasions.

Since the breach was discovered, the DELWP has apologized for the error, has halted the use of emails for gun license renewal purposes, and has made clear that they will notify all those affected. However, DELWP Executive Director of Communications Catherine Payne told the media that the department could not be sure that the data had not been misused.

The mundane nature of this error should drive home to gun owners the danger of this type of centralized data collection. Without minimizing the severity of the error in this instance, many office workers and others who use email will likely understand how such a breach might occur.

This fact was not lost on Victoria MP Daniel Young, who belongs to the Australia’s Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party. In arguing that the episode shows why the government should not keep a firearms registry, Young said, “This information can be leaked very easily, and it's quite serious.”

Young also called such centralized data, “A nice handy list of all the people who are keeping firearms in their homes would be great in the hands of a criminal.”

Of course, the U.S. is not immune to this type of bureaucratic error. Late last year, the California Department of Justice revealed that they had inappropriately released the personal information of 3,424 Certified California Firearm Safety Instructors.

According to a letter sent out to all those affected by the breach, in response to a reporter’s California Public Records Act Request concerning the state’s Firearms Safety Certificate scheme, California mistakenly provided the reporter with the “names, date of birth, California Driver’s License number, and/or California Identification number,” of the state’s certified instructors. 

The letter goes on to urge instructors to monitor their credit for fraud and contact the Department of Motor Vehicles in order to prevent identity theft. Pointing out another concern, Los Angeles Police Lt. Raymond Foster told FoxNews.com, “many of [the instructors] are retired police officers and that could put them at an additional risk. Most of them when they are off-duty like to lie low and blend in.”

The California DOJ maintains an incredible amount of gun owner data. Nearly all firearm transfers in California must take place through a licensed gun dealer. Such transfers are subject to the state’s Dealer Record of Sale regime, and the personal information of the transferee and information about the firearm is registered in the DOJ’s Automated Firearm System. Given the California DOJ’s haphazard stewardship of firearm instructor data, California gun owners should be concerned about the state’s handling of other types of gun owner information.

For decades, NRA has fought to enact legislation to help ensure that the data some governments collect on gun owners remains private, which often entails exempting gun owner information from state freedom of information act statutes. However, as exhibited by these two recent episodes, the only way to guarantee the privacy of gun owners from government malice or incompetence is to prevent the government from maintaining such records in the first place.

TRENDING NOW
H.R. 127 – A Bill Designed to Express Hostility Toward Law-Abiding Gun Owners

News  

Thursday, February 11, 2021

H.R. 127 – A Bill Designed to Express Hostility Toward Law-Abiding Gun Owners

All gun control bills share the same basic goal: a world in which fewer people own firearms. Some bills simply ban certain types of firearms or ammunition outright. Others place obstacles in the path of ...

Anti-gun Senators and Mayors Push Biden on Executive Gun Controls

News  

Monday, February 22, 2021

Anti-gun Senators and Mayors Push Biden on Executive Gun Controls

Following a year filled with the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread civil unrest, Americans are in no rush to enact further gun controls. According to data from a January Gallup poll, 42 percent of Americans are satisfied ...

NRA Victory in Washington Court of Appeals

News  

Monday, February 22, 2021

NRA Victory in Washington Court of Appeals

The National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action applauds a decision by the Washington Court of Appeals today that upheld the state's preemption law and struck down a pair of local ordinances that restricted the ...

Indiana: House Passes Right-To-Carry Bill

Monday, February 22, 2021

Indiana: House Passes Right-To-Carry Bill

Today, the House passed House Bill 1369 by a vote of 65-31 and sent it on to the Senate for further consideration.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Florida Alert! H.R. 127 - Federal Gun Control Proposal

Much is being said about H.R. 127 By Shelia Jackson Lee (D-TX) 117th Congress and we have had many folks contacting us seeking information. 

Biden Begins Gun Control Push

News  

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Biden Begins Gun Control Push

On Sunday, President Biden used the three-year anniversary of the criminal attack in Parkland, Florida to call “on Congress to enact commonsense gun law reforms, including requiring background checks on all gun sales, banning assault weapons ...

Canada’s Liberal Government: More Gun Control!

News  

Monday, February 22, 2021

Canada’s Liberal Government: More Gun Control!

Apparently acting on the impulse that the solution to one irrational gun control proposal is more of the same, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government introduced a bill with new restrictions and prohibitions on February ...

Judge Allows Canadian Case that Seeks Mandatory “Smart Gun” Tech to Proceed

News  

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Judge Allows Canadian Case that Seeks Mandatory “Smart Gun” Tech to Proceed

This month, a judge hearing a lawsuit in a Canadian court against U.S. gun maker Smith & Wesson issued a decision that could pave the way for mandatory “smart gun” technology on firearms marketed and sold in ...

Washington: Carry Ban Sent to the Senate Floor for Rapid Consideration

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Washington: Carry Ban Sent to the Senate Floor for Rapid Consideration

Yesterday, Senate Bill 5038 was pulled from the Senate Rules Committee and sent to the Senate Floor where it can be heard at any time. 

Illinois: Bills Filed For Gun Registration & to Ban Gun Modifications & Private Transfers

Monday, February 22, 2021

Illinois: Bills Filed For Gun Registration & to Ban Gun Modifications & Private Transfers

Last week, anti-gun legislators filed bills to require registration for many common semi-automatic firearms, ban many firearm modifications, and increase the fee and red tape to apply for a FOID.

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.