SACRAMENTO — Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced earlier this month that 2,000 firearms were seized from individuals legally barred from possessing them, including persons determined to be mentally unstable and those with active restraining orders.
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“California has clear laws determining who can possess firearms based on their threat to public safety,” said Harris. “Enforcing those laws is crucial because we have seen the terrible tragedies that occur when guns are in the wrong hands. This program is an important part of our law enforcement work and I thank all of the agents who work so hard every day to keep our communities safe.”
In 2012, 33 Department of Justice agents used the Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS) database to identify individuals prohibited from owning guns, including convicted felons, individuals with active restraining orders, and those determined to be mentally unstable. In total, DOJ agents seized 2,033 firearms, 117,000 rounds of ammunition, and 11,072 illegal high capacity magazines. These numbers include seizures conducted from Jan. 1 to Nov. 30, 2012.
The majority of firearms were seized during two six-week sweeps. The first statewide sweep targeted individuals prohibited because of mental health issues and the second focused on people with legally registered assault weapons who were later prohibited from owning them.
In 2011, Attorney General Harris sponsored legislation to increase funding for the Department of Justice’s APPS program through the use of existing regulatory fees collected by gun dealers. Senate Bill 819 passed in June 2011 and became law on Jan. 1, 2012.
The APPS database cross-references five databases to find people who legally purchased handguns and registered assault weapons since 1996 with people who are prohibited from owning or possessing firearms. The database was completed in November 2006, and the first statewide sweep was conducted in 2007.
Since Harris took office, there have been three statewide APPS sweeps. The Department of Justice leads these efforts with the support of local law enforcement agencies.
California is the first and only state in the nation to establish an automated system for tracking handgun and assault weapon owners who might fall into a prohibited status.