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Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Applauds Governor's Signature on Bill to Take More Prohibited Firearms off the Streets

Monday, October 10, 2011
Contact: (415) 703-5837

SACRAMENTO -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today praised Governor Jerry Brown’s signature of Senate Bill 819, which will allow law enforcement officers to take more firearms out of the hands of those who are prohibited from owning them.

“Department of Justice Special Agents are the secret weapon of California law enforcement. I applaud Governor Brown for signing this law that will authorize our Special Agents to utilize existing funds to seize firearms from felons, gang members, the mentally ill and others who cannot legally possess such weapons,” Attorney General Harris said. “Seizing guns from the most dangerous among us is the kind of smart law enforcement that makes a difference in the everyday lives of Californians.”

SB 819, by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), allows the use of existing regulatory fees collected by gun dealers to fund the Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS), a program administered by the California Department of Justice.

“There is a troubling blind spot in our current enforcement of firearms laws,” said Senator Leno. “Thousands of gun owners who once obtained their weapons legally still possess firearms despite subsequent issues, including criminal activities, which disqualify them from owning weapons. Innocent lives have been lost because we allow guns to be in the hands of known criminals and people who have serious mental illnesses. SB 819 helps remedy this troubling threat to public safety.”

The Bureau of Firearms has identified more than 18,000 Californians who illegally possess tens of thousands of firearms. Every day, 15 to 20 names are added to the list of prohibited persons who own firearms. SB 819 allows the Department of Justice to use a surplus from the Dealer’s Record of Sale account to enforce APPS. The program, which began in 2007, cross-references five databases to find people who legally purchased firearms since 1996 with those who have since been prohibited from owning or possessing them.

Law enforcement officials in California have long struggled to disarm people who are prohibited from owning a firearm. State and local officials lack the resources necessary to confiscate the enormous backlog of weapons, nor can they keep up with the daily influx of newly-prohibited persons. SB 819 helps to ensure that more persons on the APPS list are identified and their weapons confiscated.

In June, Attorney General Harris announced the results of a statewide sweep in which 1,209 firearms were seized from individuals legally barred from possessing them. The six-week sweep conducted by 99 agents from the Department of Justice also seized 155,731 rounds of ammunition and two grenades.

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