California Attorney General Rob Bonta released a report on Monday showing a slight reduction in the number of people who need to have their legal weapons taken away because they’ve either been convicted of certain crimes or have some sort of restraining order against them.
The program is part of California’s Armed and Prohibited Persons System (also known as APPS), which has been tracking firearm owners since 2006 who are prevented from having them because they were convicted of a felony, certain misdemeanors, have a restraining order against them or had a mental health triggering event.
California is the only state in the country with this kind of system.
The California Department of Justice’s 2022 report showed the number of people on the backlog dropped by about 3% compared to 2021, with now 23,869 people on the list of people that should have their weapons taken away. More than 9,200 of those cases are considered active, while the rest are considered “pending”, which the DOJ defines as cases in which agents have exhausted all leads or have determined the person is no longer within the state’s jurisdiction.
“Last year our team knocked on more doors than ever before in the history of the APPS program,” Bonta said, noting special agents made 24,000 contacts in 2022. Bonta said more people were removed from the apps list than added that year.
The report shows special agents seized 1,437 guns, 64% of which were known through APPS, while 36% were firearms that weren’t tracked in the database or illegal. Most of the weapons recovered are handguns, but the Department of Justice investigators noted long guns, ghost guns, and assault weapons have been found. A grenade launcher was displayed in Monday’s presentation.
Bonta said several efforts are underway to address the issues that have plagued the program for years, which were at the center of a legislative hearing in January. Primarily, Bonta wants to permanently fund a requirement for courts to confiscate the weapons at the time a firearm owner is convicted of a crime, and fund a similar program with those met with a restraining order.
Assm. Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale, said the DOJ’s report was mixed news.
“I think we’d have much greater reduction if we were a little bit smarter in how we’re implementing this,” he said.
Lackey recently went on an APPS ride along, where he saw first-hand how tedious the process is. He said he supports Bonta’s efforts to make the system more efficient, including an update to the old technology and the numerous databases it requires.
“They’ve got my complete support for that undertaking because what’s the cost of a life? This should be a priority,” Lackey said.