The private information of thousands of California firearms instructors was accidentally released by the state late last year in response to a journalist’s Freedom of Information request.
The data request was made in August, when a reporter for Southern California Public Radio (KPCC), an NPR affiliate, sought all information on Firearms Safety Certifications available from the California Department of Justice.
The information was released in October, and a clerical error gave the reporter wide access to the personal information of 3,424 firearms instructors -- whose dates of birth, driver’s license numbers and California identification numbers were handed over, according to NRA-ILA, the legislative arm of the National Rifle Association.
The error was caught two months later, and the California DOJ sent out a letter to all of the Golden State’s instructors letting them know their personal information had been compromised.
“The Department discovered the data breach on October 17, 2016, and notified the requestor of the error and asked that the information be destroyed and that no further dissemination of it occur,” said the letter, sent by the Office of the Attorney General Kamala Harris. Harris is now a U.S. senator.
The letter also recommended the firearm instructors place a fraud alert on their credit. Since driver's license numbers are appealing to identity thieves, a fraud alert could prevent criminals from misusing someone's personal data.
NRA officials blasted the California DOJ for its data breach and questioned why it took the department so long to alert the thousands who were affected.
“This privacy breach is just another example of the California Department of Justice’s disregard for the rights of gun owners,” Jennifer Baker, director of public affairs for the NRA, said to FoxNews.com. “There’s no reason why the private information of firearms instructors should have been released – the DOJ redacts information all the time."
Baker also questioned the length of time it took the state to inform victims of the breach.
Nearly 4,000 gun safety instructors in California received this letter by the DOJ two months after the breach was discovered.
“It’s time the California government start awarding gun owners the same respect as it does non-gun owners.”