Gov. Brown OKs funds to confiscate guns from criminals, mentally ill

Wednesday, May 1, 2013
By Paul Martin

By Patrick McGreevy
LATimes.com
May 1, 2013

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed legislation aimed at taking handguns and assault rifles away from 20,000 Californians who acquired them legally but have since been disqualified from ownership because of a criminal conviction or serious mental illness.

The measure, the first of several gun-related bills to reach the governor, allocates $24 million in surplus funds to hire dozens of additional special agents to tackle a backlog of 40,000 weapons in the hands of people not allowed to possess firearms.

“This bipartisan bill makes our communities safer by giving law enforcement the resources they need to get guns out of the hands of potentially dangerous individuals,” said Evan Westrup, a spokesman for the governor.

The state operates a database that cross-references a list of gun owners with those disqualified later from owning guns. But, budget cuts have prevented the state Department of Justice from keeping up with the growing number of people on the list.

State Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) introduced SB 140, which takes the money from fees paid when people buy guns and allocates it to a three-year campaign to take guns from those ineligible to have them.

“We know for the safety of our communities that these people should not possess guns, and our reinvestment in this tracking program gives us the opportunity to confiscate them,” Leno said in a statement.

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