California gun sales rose 50 percent in 2016 as residents rushed to buy the “bullet-button” rifles before they were labeled illegal assault weapons under the Jan. 1 ban. Gun dealers processed 1,331,322 gun sales last year, up by 450,000 from 2015. That’s the equivalent of one gun sold for every 30 California residents. Last year marked the first time that more than 1 million guns were sold in California in a single year. Long gun sales accounted for the bulk of the rise: Sales doubled from 2015 to almost 760,000. And handgun sales continued what has been a nearly unbroken rise over the decade. Sales rose 18 percent from 2015, to about 573,000.


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. The error was caught two months later, and the California DOJ sent out a letter to all of the 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. Some security experts said that while it wasn't a significant data breach, there is still cause for concern. Since receiving the data, it appears that none of the information has been published in any recent stories. In its letter to firearm instructors, the California DOJ said that it had asked the reporter to destroy the information he received and if he did not do so he would face legal action.