Assembly Passes Leno Bill Taking Illegally Possessed Firearms Off Streets

April 18, 2013

SB 140 Allocates $24 Million to the Department of Justice to Address California’s Backlog of Illegally Possessed Guns

SACRAMENTO – The Assembly today passed legislation that would take illegally possessed firearms off the streets and out of the hands of potentially dangerous people who are prohibited from having them. Senate Bill 140, authored by Senator Mark Leno and Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, appropriates $24 million to the California Department of Justice (DOJ) to enhance the identification and confiscation of handguns and assault weapons that are in the hands of convicted felons, persons who are determined to be mentally unstable, and others who have criminal backgrounds that prevent them from legally possessing guns.
“We are fortunate in California to have the first and only system in the nation that tracks and identifies individuals who at one time made legal purchases of firearms but are now barred from possessing them,” said Senator Leno, D-San Francisco. “However, due to a lack of resources, only a few of these illegally possessed weapons have been confiscated, and the mountain of firearms continues to grow each day. This legislation makes a significant reinvestment in our state’s unique tracking system to help eliminate this troubling backlog of illegal weapons and protect public safety in our communities.”
SB 140 was introduced as an urgency measure so that the funds could be appropriated to DOJ as soon as possible. The bill, which passed the Senate with a 31-0 bipartisan vote last month, returns to the Senate for a concurrence vote before heading to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk. If SB 140 is signed by the Governor, it would take effect immediately.
“When it comes to gun violence, the most basic public protection is to enforce existing laws and keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people,” said Senator Steinberg, D-Sacramento. “When we know who they are, we should act. This is a wise and worthy investment in the safety of California communities.”
The Bureau of Firearms has identified about 20,000 Californians who illegally possess an estimated 40,000 handguns and assault weapons. Every day, this list of prohibited persons owning firearms grows by 15 to 20. SB 140 would allow the DOJ to use $24 million of surplus funds from the Dealer Record of Sale account to enforce the department’s existing Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS) program. APPS, which began in 2007, cross-references various databases to find people who legally purchased handguns and registered assault weapons since 1996 with individuals who are prohibited from owning or possessing firearms.
"I commend the California State Legislature for leading the nation in a common sense effort to stop gun violence by funding the Armed Prohibited Persons Program,” said Attorney General Kamala Harris. “Senate Bill 140 will allow the Department of Justice to double efforts to enforce the law and reduce the number of guns illegally possessed by violent and dangerous individuals.”
Senator Leno authored SB 819 in 2011 that authorized the DOJ’s ability to confiscate illegally possessed weapons with funds from the Dealer Record of Sale account to provide the DOJ with additional agents to enforce APPS. As a result, agents last year were able to seize more than 2,000 firearms, 117,000 rounds of ammunition and 11,072 illegal high-capacity magazines in targeted sweeps.
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