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(LOS ANGELES) Attorney General Bill Lockyer, Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo and the Los Angeles Police Department First Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell, in collaboration with Project Safe Neighborhood, joined together today to launch a campaign to stem the growing tide of guns owned by legal purchasers that are turning up in the hands of criminals. The crackdown, which will be piloted in two high-crime areas in the City of Los Angeles, consists of stepping up enforcement of a law requiring gun owners to report sales or transfers of their firearms. The leaders say reporting is required so that authorities can conduct a background check on new owners before they take possession of a gun.
“Too many violent crimes in our communities are the result of guns falling into the wrong hands," said Attorney General Bill Lockyer. “Gun owners must take responsibility for the weapons that they own. They must be vigilant about storing weapons securely, and they must notify authorities when they intend to sell or give away their gun so that new owners cannot duck the required background check.”
A letter from Attorney General Lockyer, City Attorney Delgadillo, and LAPD Chief William J. Bratton will be mailed to new gun owners reminding them of their legal responsibilities, which includes storing weapons securely and notifying authorities via the filing of a “dealer record of sale” (DROS), which can be initiated at any gun store, when they intend to sell or give away their gun. Highlighted in the letter is a warning that if police recover a gun involved in a crime, the previous owner will be prosecuted if a DROS was not completed.
"Owning a firearm carries with it great deal of responsibility," said Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo. "This effort is intended to assure that gun owners live up to that responsibility and that they understand we will make Los Angeles safer by prosecuting anyone involved in the illegal transfer of a firearm.”
DROS forms are filed electronically with the Department of Justice (DOJ) from gun dealers statewide to initiate the required 10-day waiting period and state and federal required background checks prior to the sale or transfer of a firearm. The background check is intended to identify and stop the sale or transfer of a gun to anyone who has a felony conviction, mental instability, an active restraining order, or has been convicted of certain violent misdemeanors.
On average, the DOJ receives 900 DROS transactions per day and conducts over three hundred thousand background checks annually, preventing firearms from being sold or transferred to thousands of potential buyers who fail the check. Since 2000, over 18,000 applicants have been denied a gun because they fall into one of these prohibited categories.
The program will initially start in the LAPD’s 77th Area and the Devonshire Area. Both areas have a large number of residents who are legally buying guns that are ultimately being recovered as crime guns in the possession of others. According to a RAND analysis, the 77th area is responsible for 8.5% of all crime guns recovered in Los Angeles County. The Devonshire Area has the highest number of crime guns recovered out of all the Areas outside of South Los Angeles.
“The Los Angeles Police Department is proud to be involved in this partnership with the State Attorney General and the City Attorney,” said First Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell. “We need to use every tool we have to reduce the violence in our communities. This campaign sends a strong message to gun purchasers: be part of the solution, not a part of the problem.”
According to the Attorney General’s annual report on crime statistics, 40-50% of homicides committed in California occur in Los Angeles County. In 2003, 73% of homicides in California were committed with a gun; 66% were committed with a handgun.
The joint project is the result of discussions among Lockyer, Delgadillo and Bratton’s offices about how to better prevent gun violence. Lockyer’s office has developed special software in order to expedite contact information for all gun applicants in the target areas to Delgadillo’s office, which will generate letters during the 10-day waiting period, when potential gun owners are awaiting news of their background check. When LAPD recovers a gun and finds in its investigation that the weapon is traceable to an owner that failed to file a DROS request, officers will notify the City Attorney’s office, which will proceed with prosecution.