California Department of Justice Releases 2023 Armed and Prohibited Persons System Program Annual Report

Monday, March 11, 2024
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

DOJ seized 1,443 firearms through the APPS program, including 88 ghost guns 

DOJ contacted more individuals than ever before — more than 25,000

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced the release of the 2023 Armed and Prohibited Persons System (APPS) annual program report. In 2006, California became the first state in the nation to establish a system for identifying and recovering illegally possessed firearms from individuals who fall into a prohibited status that at one point purchased the firearm legally. The APPS database works to identify individuals who legally procured firearms and later failed to relinquish those weapons after they became prohibited from possessing them. It remains one of the only systems of its kind in the nation. In general, prohibited persons in APPS include individuals who have been convicted of a felony or a violent misdemeanor, are subject to a domestic violence or other restraining order, or suffer from serious mental illness. Through the APPS program in 2023, DOJ recovered 1,443 firearms from illegally armed individuals — including 683 handguns, 364 rifles, 216 shotguns, 39 assault weapons, 88 ghost guns, 51 receivers or frames, and 2 short-barreled shotguns.

“I take great pride in the efforts of our Special Agents as they work diligently to protect and serve the citizens of California,” said Attorney General Bonta. “These courageous individuals are saving lives. They may not always receive public recognition, but their tireless commitment is proactively preventing incidents of gun violence by removing illegally possessed firearms from our communities. As the primary law enforcement official for California, my utmost priority is upholding public safety and protecting our communities from the looming threat posed by gun violence. When firearms fall into the wrong hands, it endangers all of us. We will persist in collaborating with the Governor's Office, Legislature, and local partners to effectively tackle this issue of gun violence head-on.”

The Bureau of Firearms (BOF) within the California Department of Justice's (DOJ) Division of Law Enforcement leads DOJ’s APPS efforts. The 2023 APPS report provides an analysis of the APPS database, a breakdown of Gun Violence Reduction Program Awards, and describes how BOF staff and Special Agents increased enforcement efforts and collaborated with local law enforcement.

Key statistics from the 2023 report include:  

  • For the second year in a row, more individuals were removed from the prohibited list than added in 2023. In 2023, DOJ removed 9,051 people from the APPS database of armed and prohibited persons and added 8,633 people, a decrease of 1.75%. Substantial decreases have only occurred in three previous years since the APPS program came into existence.
  • In total, agents made approximately 25,500 contacts in 2023. DOJ made 1,500 more contacts in 2023 compared to 2022. This is the highest number of contacts since the APPS program came into existence.
    • 2023 saw the fewest additions to the prohibited persons list since 2014, following a steady decline across the past several years. This decrease is due in part to the recent emphasis on seizing firearms at or near the time of prohibition, consistent with DOJ’s recent recommendations.   
    • The number of people in the APPS database of recorded firearm owners grew by 144,242 in 2023. These individuals did not own a registered firearm at the start of 2023 and purchased a firearm during the year. 
  • A key focus for APPS enforcement efforts is recovering firearms from people who are illegally armed in violation of court restraining orders. In 2023, individuals prohibited, at least in part, due to a restraining order made up over 50% of those disarmed due to APPS efforts. This shows the crucial role APPS plays in protecting victims of domestic violence, workplace violence, and other victims from further or potential harm.
  • DOJ’s agents seized a total of 88 ghost guns in 2023, a 63% increase compared to the 54 ghost guns seized during 2022 APPS investigations. 

2023 APPS Operations

DOJ collaborates with local law enforcement agencies throughout the state on individual APPS operations, as well as sweeps, or operations that occur over multiple days within a specific area. A list of operations can be found at the back of the report. Some notable examples include:  

Los Angeles County: In January of 2023, a Los Angeles resident attempted to purchase ammunition and was flagged as prohibited through the ammunition eligibility check process. During the service of the search warrant, agents located one unregistered assault weapon, five rifles, three shotguns, one handgun, one large-capacity magazine, six standard capacity magazines, and approximately 3,700 rounds of ammunition. 

Orange County: In July of 2023, DOJ identified a subject who resided in Villa Park, California, and was prohibited from owning or possessing firearms due to having a domestic violence restraining order issued against him. Agents obtained a search warrant for the residence and during the service of that warrant they located nine handguns, four shotguns, one assault rifle, 13 rifles, 30 ammunition magazines, and 405 rounds of ammunition.

San Luis Obispo County:  In October of 2023, DOJ identified a subject who resided in Paso Robles, California, who was prohibited from owning or possessing firearms due to a mental health commitment. The subject had 50 firearms recorded in his name. Agents contacted the subject, searched his residence, located and seized 281 long guns (both shotguns and rifles), 227 handguns, 92 standard capacity magazines, 25 high-capacity magazines, and approximately 28,000 rounds of ammunition.

About the Bureau of Firearms

DOJ’s BOF serves the people of California through education, regulation, and enforcement actions regarding the manufacture, sale, ownership, safety training, and transfer of firearms and ammunition. BOF staff are leaders in providing firearms expertise and information to law enforcement, legislators, and the general public in a comprehensive program to promote legitimate and responsible firearms possession and use by California residents. BOF is looking to hire additional Special Agents and more information on assessments for relevant job openings can be found on DOJ's website here:  

A copy of the report can be found here

A video highlighting the work that the APPS team does can be found here.


# # #