New Law Provides Resources to Identify Persons Prohibited from Having Firearms - Effective Immediately, Bill Appropriates $24 Million to Address Backlog in California’s Armed Prohibited Persons System

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Wednesday, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that provides $24 million to fund the Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS), the only state database to cross-reference all handgun and assault-weapon owners against criminal records to identify individuals prohibited from possessing a firearm. The bill stems from an estimated backlog of more than 20,000 prohibited owners in possession of over 40,000 firearms in California. Until now, neither the Department of Justice nor local law enforcement had sufficient resources to confiscate the enormous backlog of prohibited weapons.

Senate Bill 140, which takes effect immediately, appropriates funds from a special account of fees paid by gun owners at the time of sale. The $24 million allows the Department of Justice to hire 36 additional agents for APPS, increasing enforcement operations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Fresno, and Riverside counties. These counties can soon expect more agents, law enforcement and support staff to take back firearms from prohibited owners and better track them through APPS’s automated system. In the APPS database, people who previously purchased one or more guns may later become prohibited if they are convicted of a felony or violent misdemeanor, are under a domestic violence restraining order, or found mentally unstable.

Unique to California, the APPS system may be used as the model for a national grant program allowing other states to start their own automated database.

This new law does not affect cities’ ability to seize weapons from those who are found to be a danger to themselves or others (under Health and Safety Code section 8102), or are involved in a domestic violence incident meeting the criteria of Penal Code section 18250. It also does not affect cities’ ability to seek the forfeiture of these weapons regardless of the persons’ ability to own or possess firearms.

For more information on the new law or how it will affect your agency, please contact Municipal attorney Laura Crane, Public Safety attorney Ross Trindle or law enforcement specialist Paul Cappitelli, or your BB&K attorney.