In 2001, California passed a first-of-its-kind law to create a database of residents who had become prohibited from owning firearms. Whether through criminal conduct or mental health issues, these individuals would be included on a list dubbed the “Armed and Prohibited Persons System” (APPS).
The database is made possible by the state’s firearm registration and universal background check systems, and the California Department of Justice hoped local law enforcement and state agents would be able to use APPS to confiscate firearms from those deemed unfit.
Unfortunately for Golden State gun grabbers, the program has been an abject failure—and its problems are only getting worse.
The news outlet CalMatters published this week a lengthy article highlighting the program’s worst failings, and they sum it up like this: “…what seemed at the time like a straight-forward approach to the enforcement of existing gun laws has instead become mired in chronic shortcomings, failing for years to make good on its potential.”
The full piece is worth a read, but CalMatters revealed (sometimes unintentionally, it seems) how the APPS system is used to harass gun owners and violate their privacy rights.
Since government agencies maintain the APPS list, CalMatters was able to obtain personal information of some of the current and former gun owners included in the database. But as CalMatters admits, not everyone on the list is supposed to be there.
Some people who appear in the APPS database have already surrendered their firearms. Others are only there due to administrative errors.
“Even when the information is correct, some people might be on the list because of an apparent misunderstanding or paperwork issue, not because they’re trying to illegally keep their guns,” the outlet reports.
Law enforcement agents sometimes devote time and resources to confiscating firearms only to find that the database has given them faulty information.
“The work-intensive process and outmoded technology has led some in law enforcement to question the database’s reliability. They say they’ve discovered errors during field operations and that investigations based on the list are a waste of resources,” according to CalMatters.
And then there’s simple bureaucratic incompetence. Some officials estimate that there are 24,000 people in the APPS database who have not surrendered their firearms. But CalMatters reports (towards the bottom of the article) that even this number is mostly guesswork.
“As it stands now, the department can’t even determine the precise breadth of the backlog, including how many cases have remained unresolved for more than six months,” they say.
There are multiple causes for the backlog. CalMatters discovered that many local police departments do not even know about the database. They also note that judges often do not ensure that their gun confiscation orders are carried out, and agents at the California DOJ can’t keep up with the constant stream of new prohibited persons.
What many gun owners may not know is that just being on the list doesn’t give law enforcement the right to confiscate firearms. According to CalMatters, agents must acquire probable cause that a person still possesses a gun in order to obtain a search warrant. If an individual simply denies owning a firearm, the investigation may end right there.
One agency told CalMatters that they gave up on confiscating firearms after one night of work, calling it “a waste of resources that could be directed toward more pressing violent crime problems.” Some people provided proof that their guns had been sold long ago, while others claimed they had gotten rid of them but could provide no evidence.
“There was just no way to verify,” one agent said, adding that the state “has no idea who has guns and who’s turned them in.”
The program’s sorry track record has made it difficult for anti-gun advocates to justify its continued existence. According to CalMatters, “Gun control advocates struggled to identify shootings that might have been prevented had authorities successfully retrieved firearms,” and the outlet did not report on any specific instances.
One spokesperson for the anti-gun group Giffords may have unintentionally summed up how most law-abiding gun owners feel about gun control efforts.
“It’s very frustrating to see that we have such a hard time implementing firearms removals in situations where we have all the information in front of us,” she said. “It doesn’t give the public a lot of confidence in our ability to tackle a lot of these more complex firearm issues.”
During a CNN town hall on Wednesday, President Biden said he is “continuing to push” for a ban on weapons that can fire multiple rounds, including handguns.
The statement came after an audience member asked how he planned to address gun violence at the federal level “to actually bring about change and make our local cities safer.”
“I’m the only guy that ever got — passed legislation when I was a senator to make sure we eliminated assault weapons,” Biden responded. “The idea you need a weapon that can have the ability to fire 20, 30, 40, 50, 120 shots from that weapon, whether it’s a, whether it’s a 9mm pistol or whether it’s a rifle, is ridiculous.”
“I’m continuing to push to eliminate the sale of those things, but I’m not likely to get that done in the near term,” Biden added.
House Republicans vowed to never let Biden get away with stripping Americans’ Second Amendment rights.
Now usually I take this with a huge grain of salt. But this timeI am getting nervous about this issue. Grumpy
MARTINSBURG, WV –-(Ammoland.com)- AmmoLand News learned through a leaked Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) conference call that the agency is starting to run gun buyers retroactively through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
In the conference call, the ATF leadership asked its Industry Operations Inspectors (IOI) to collect information on the customers that used concealed carry permits instead of obtaining a background check through the NICS. The purpose of obtaining this information would be to run the customer’s data through the NICS to see if the customer would have received an approved or denied status. In addition, the IOI will pass on the names and information of customers denied by the NICS to the criminal branch for a special agent to follow up.
Some states, such as Alaska, allow gun buyers to use their concealed carry permits to buy a gun instead of being subjected to a background check through NICS. Gun buyers in these states believe that using a concealed carry permit to purchase firearms gives them a level of anonymity that the NICS doesn’t provide.
The information from the firearms background check paperwork (ATF Form 4473) is not submitted to the FBI when the customer uses their permit. Before the new policy, the only time the government would know a person bought a gun is when the FFL goes out of business, a trace request is submitted, or the customer buys multiple handguns within a seven-day period.
Congress wrote an exemption to the mandated background check using the NICS into the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act in 1998. However, the ATF has not been a fan of states letting their citizens use their concealed carry permits to buy guns without going through the NICS. In fact, the ATF has told states like Michigan that they can no longer use the concealed carry permit exemption.
According to the Brady Act, states can let gun buyers use concealed carry permits instead of going through the NICS if the permit meets or exceeds the NICS requirements, and the issuing agency performs a background check on the permit applicant using the NICS. However, even though states like Michigan meet all the conditions laid out in the Brady Act for a NICS exemption, The ATF had an issue with how some issuing agencies implemented the law.
Some sheriffs used the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) to perform background checks instead of the NICS. The NCIC database is where the NICS database pulls most of its information. They claimed since that the sheriffs were not following the proper procedure, that the FFLs of the state could not use the concealed carry permit to buy a gun.
Gun Owners of America (GOA) sued the ATF over their decision to revoke the NICS exemption for Michigan and other states. GOA claimed that the ATF did not have the right to reinterpret the Brady Act law. The ATF stopped revoking exemption status for states once the lawsuits started to be filed in multiple states by the gun rights organization.
It seems like the ATF has found another way to run customers through the NICS. Unfortunately, the ATF would not provide AmmoLand News a comment.
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at www.crumpy.com.
I myself would NEVER encourage such a thing myself Grumpy
Louisiana Governor Vetoes Gun
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has vetoed bipartisan legislation that would have nixed the permit requirement for carrying a concealed handgun.
The governor, a Democrat, said he’s a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and an “enthusiastic outdoorsman and hunter,” but he can’t support permitless concealed carry.
“I simply cannot support carrying a concealed carry firearm without proper education and safety training,” he said in a statement. “Our current system strikes the right balance of ensuring that people can bear arms while also keeping reasonable permitting and training processes in place. … Simply put, it is not too much to ask that a person who wishes to carry a concealed weapon in public be required to attend basic marksmanship and safety training so they understand the regulations associated with such an action.”
“For these reasons, I have vetoed the permitless carry bill.”
The bill, Senate Bill 118 (pdf), would allow any resident who is 21 years of age or older and who is not prohibited from owning a firearm by state or federal law to carry a concealed gun without a permit. Legally qualified gun owners “shall not be required to possess a valid concealed handgun permit issued by the state of Louisiana … to carry a concealed handgun in the state of Louisiana,” the bill states.
The bill also would require the state Department of Public Safety and Corrections to provide a free 60-minute online concealed handgun education course.
The scope of the online training includes sections on concealed handgun basics and nomenclature, firearm-free zones, use of deadly force, and interactions with law enforcement officers.
However, the course wouldn’t be required for concealed handgun carry.
State Sen. Jay Morris, the Republican sponsor of SB 118, told the Lafayette Daily Advertiser that he wasn’t surprised but was still disappointed by the governor’s decision.
“The people of Louisiana want it and hopefully, we will join our neighbors, like Texas and Mississippi, and pass constitutional carry with or without the Governor’s signature,” he said.
The bill was passed in the state Senate and House with bipartisan support. One Democratic senator and seven Democratic House members joined Republicans to vote for the bill.
State Senate President Patrick Page Cortez and state House Speaker Clay Schexnayder didn’t respond to requests for comment by press time.
It’s unclear whether the state Senate and the House will seek to override the veto.
However, Schexnayder said earlier this week that he supports a veto override session after Edwards vetoed an unrelated bill, The Lafayette Daily Advertiser reported.
The override session—which could happen at the end of July—would be the first one since the new Louisiana Constitutional was adopted in 1974.
The National Rifle Association didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.