Long a pioneer in gun confiscation, California lawmakers have developed a brand-new way of ensuring “dangerous” felons relinquish their firearms.
As part of Proposition 63, those convicted of crimes that prohibit firearm ownership will be required to provide proof that they have surrendered those firearms to local law enforcement or a licensed firearm dealer.
The move, according to the Los Angeles Times, is designed to reduce the backlog in California’s Armed and Prohibited Persons System (APPS). Which currently includes the names of over 10,000 residents of the Golden State.
Whereas most states are content to wait until a prohibited person is caught with a firearm, California’s approach is much more proactive. The California Department of Justice cross-references known firearm owners with individuals who have been convicted of felonies, deemed mentally unstable, or given domestic violence restraining orders.
All such individuals are placed on the APPS list. That allows a special gun confiscation unit to visit those people and ensure that they relinquish their firearms.
Confiscating firearms is never safe or cheap. California lawmakers infused the APPS program with $24 million in 2013. And agents cut the number of people on the list from 20,721 people in mid-2013 to 10,634 in 2016.
SEE ALSO: Top Five Tactical Pens
Now that grant money has run out. While agents have managed to keep the number around 10,000, lawmakers worry about maintaining such a large backlog. Proposition 63 will help in the future. But it cannot reduce the number of people who own guns but have already been convicted and sentenced.
The system is also ripe for abuse, as numerous gun-rights proponents have noted.
Craig DeLuz, a spokesman for the Firearms Policy Coalition, told the LA Times lifted restraining orders are not always reflected in the database.
“When the information is inaccurate, you potentially put people at risk because you have the attorney general’s office sending armed SWAT teams to people’s homes to confiscate firearms,” DeLuz said.
As the NRA’s lawyers point out in this memorandum, individuals are often not aware that they cannot own firearms until the police come knocking. And many of them are first-time offenders convicted of non-violent charges.
The broken nature of the system, however, hasn’t stopped California politicians from promoting it for their own personal gain. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is running for governor, recently released a campaign ad threatening the “dangerous criminals” on the APPS list:
“If you are a dangerous criminal, we really are coming for your guns,” he said.
The new law took effect on January 1.