When an article starts with:
In most states, you cannot have guns if you’re a felon, or if you have been committed for mental illness. Many also prohibit gun ownership by domestic violence offenders or drug abusers.
You know you are in for some interesting reading, simply because the author didn’t bother to do any homework. Here’s a list of prohibited persons at the Federal level, which includes felons & people who’ve been involuntarily committed.
But this gold is only the beginning. You see,
[California] operates an expensive and unique program to track down illegally-owned guns. The state checks its records to find registered gun owners who have been convicted of felonies or domestic violence crimes, or who have been flagged as being mentally unstable. Roving teams of armed agents in bulletproof vests visit the homes of such people to make sure they have surrendered their guns.
Gee, what a great idea! Yes, getting these guns out the hands of criminals sounds like a great step in reducing crime, right? Remove guns, problem solved!
This is a slow, painstaking process, and it has fallen behind in recent years. After the Sandy Hook shooting in 2013, lawmakers gave the gun seizure program a $24 million infusion to fund more agents to knock on more doors. The goal was to investigate every one of the 20,000-some people who remained on the illegal gun owner list.
Two years later, the state has barely made a dent in the backlog.
In March, California’s Department of Justice released its first report on the initiative. At the end of 2014, 17,479 people remained in the illegal gun owner database, down from 21,249 people at the year’s start. About 34,868 registered firearms still are believed to be in the hands of people who are not allowed to own them.
Wow, what’s the deal guys? Why can’t you keep up with this? And $24 million wasted that could have been spent on actual preventative measures.
Part of the problem is that it is hard to keep up with the new people being added to the list all the time. Last year, agents conducted 7,573 investigations and seized 3,286 firearms. At the same time, 7,031 gun owners were newly flagged. The state has hired 18 additional agents to bolster its 33-person unit, and has been trying to staff up more.
Imagine that. Meanwhile these police officers aren’t dealing with street level crime either.
And of course, there’s some “problems”
In November 2013, for instance, agents confiscated several guns from Michael Merritt, who showed up in the database with a felony conviction for pot possession from the 1970s. Later, the agents discovered that Merritt’s case had been a misdemeanor. They returned the guns a few weeks later.
“It’s a loss of your liberty, of your rights,” Merritt told a Bakersfield TV station. “I almost passed out when they said they wanted all my guns.”
Fighting the government agency because a database has you incorrectly marked as a felon? I’m sure that was inexpensive to fight in time and money. Not.
Notice the utter lack of statistics showing reduction in crime rates. I’d be surprised if these seizures had any effect on crime whatsoever.