SACRAMENTO – On March 1, 2019, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra released the 2018 Armed and Prohibited Persons (APPS) program annual report which reflects the number of firearms seized from individuals who have become prohibited from legally owning them because they were convicted of a felony or a violent misdemeanor, placed under a domestic violence or other restraining order, or suffer from serious mental illness. The report also includes the growing number of people added to the list each year and the need for additional special agents to conduct the dangerous work of seizing the firearms.
“California will continue to set an example for the rest of the nation when it comes removing illegal firearms from our neighborhoods,” said Attorney General Becerra. “This is smart and efficient law enforcement. I am proud of our agents, who put themselves in dangerous situations on a daily basis in order to protect our families. My office remains committed to our mission: taking firearms away from dangerous and violent individuals. We look forward to working with our Governor and legislature and our local partners to fulfill this mission.”
“There is a demonstrated need for recruiting and retaining DOJ special agents who consistently face grave danger in their law enforcement work,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “Their salaries are lower than that of comparable law enforcement agencies and their hiring requirements higher.”
The State of California is the first and only state in the nation to have established an automated system for tracking firearm owners who fall into a prohibited status. The APPS database works to identify individuals who previously procured firearms but later became prohibited from legally owning them because they were convicted of a felony or a violent misdemeanor, placed under a domestic violence or other restraining order, or suffer from serious mental illness.
According to the report, in just over 10 years, the number of known firearm owners in California has more than doubled, going from 927,686 in 2008 to 2,516,836 as of January 1, 2019. Since 2013, more than 56,000 armed and prohibited persons have been added to APPS, while more than 53,000 armed and prohibited persons have been removed.
Every day, CA DOJ agents face numerous APPS challenges, such as a growing caseload, seizing firearms from uncooperative individuals, locating current addresses, obtaining search warrants, and locating the particular firearm registered in the database. In 2018, California DOJ agents made approximately 22,119 contacts with individuals in their efforts to remove firearms from the hands of prohibited persons.
One of the report’s recommendations includes increasing the number of agents by making their compensation competitive to other law enforcement agencies. Currently, the Department’s special agents, unlike many other law enforcement agencies, are required to have a college education. Entry level agents are paid less than those in law enforcement agencies that do not have this same requirement. Getting guns from prohibited persons is dangerous and difficult work, the agents who do this work should be competitively compensated for their efforts.
A copy of the report can be found here.