On March 5th, 2013

Disarming Felons & The Mentally Ill - Senate Committee Unanimously Passes SB 140

SACRAMENTO- Senate Bill 140, which calls for more California Department of Justice (DOJ) special agents to take on the enormous and growing backlog of armed prohibited people in California, unanimously passed the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee yesterday.

"The California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) fully supports SB 140.  I am encouraged by the bill's progress," said CSLEA President Alan Barcelona.  "By appropriating funds that are already available, SB 140 allows the Attorney General to add up to 80 special agents to the Bureau of Firearms where currently only 33 agents are working throughout the entire state to take firearms away from those who, by California law, should not be in possession of them.  We're talking about felons and those who are mentally ill."

California is the only state in the nation that has an automated system that tracks people who legally bought and registered firearms but have since been prohibited from possessing them due to a felony, domestic violence offense or mental illness.  There are currently more than 19,700  people in the DOJ Armed Prohibitive Persons System (APPS) who are believed to be in possession of more than 34,000 handguns and 1,590 assault weapons.

"That's 33 agents working to remove more than 35,000 firearms from the hands of more than 19,700 people deemed to be too dangerous, in one form or another, to be in possession of a gun.  Adding up to 80 special agents to the Bureau of Firearms will have a huge impact on the backlog of armed prohibited people in this state," said Barcelona.  "SB 140 is an immediate, but relatively short term, approach to the backlog.  It is my hope, in the upcoming budget, we'll see funding for even more additional special agents so we address this problem in the long term as well."

SB140 amends the Budget Act of 2012 by revising an item of appropriation for the DOJ relating to APPS.  It appropriates $24 million within the Dealers Record of Sale (DROS) special fund for costs associated with firearms regulatory and enforcement activities related to the possession of a firearm.   SB 140 was introduced by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento).

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