Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, November 20, 2023


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C.A. Reverses Preliminary Injunction Against State in Gun-Owners’ Privacy Action


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Div. One of the Fourth District Court of Appeal of Friday reversed an order granting a preliminary injunction barring the California Department of Justice from releasing to researchers personal identifying information as  persons who transfer weapons and ammunition, requesting state constitutional privacy claim.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Katherine A. Bacal overruled a demurrer to a cause of action based on the right to privacy at the same hearing at which she granted a preliminary injunction barring enforcement of legislation authorizing the sharing of information. She said:

“[P]laintiffs allege they have a legally protected privacy interest in their personal information (e.g.,  fingerprints, home addresses, phone numbers, driver license and other identifying information) that the  Department of Justice…collects during firearm and ammunition transactions….They  allege they have a reasonable expectation of privacy in this information not being disclosed for reasons  other than law’ enforcement and not being disclosed to third parties who are hostile to their interests….They also allege such disclosure constitutes a serious invasion of their privacy, as their  private information is being used and manipulated without their knowledge or consent….Plaintiffs’ allegations suffice for pleading purposes to survive demurrer.”

Likelihood of Success

Bacal went in to say:

“Just as plaintiffs’ cause of action for violation of privacy under the California Constitution survived defendant’s demurrer, for the same reasons plaintiffs have also shown a likelihood of success on the merits to satisfy the factor of the preliminary injunction inquiry.”

In her unpublished opinion reversing the order, Justice Julia C. Kelety said:

“Even assuming that Plaintiffs have met the threshold inquiries to establish a privacy claim, the Attorney General presented a legitimate countervailing interest and presented evidence explaining why Plaintiffs’ proposed alternatives are not adequate or sufficient. Having failed to rebut that evidence, Plaintiffs cannot establish a probability of success on the merits as a matter of law, and we therefore reverse the trial court’s order granting the preliminary injunction and remand the matter to the trial court with instructions to enter a new order denying the motion for a preliminary injunction.”

Nature of Interest

That interest, Kelety explained, was “in conducting empirical research aimed at reducing firearm violence.”

She noted that in ruling on a demurrer, the trial court must take all well pleaded facts as true, declaring:

“[T]he trial court needed to consider those issues that it had deemed not appropriate for consideration at the demurrer stage and, in doing so, needed to consider the supporting materials submitted by the parties.  Because the trial court declined to conduct that analysis, it abused its discretion.”

The case is Barba v. Bonta, D081194.


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