On Wednesday, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 140 into law, a bill that funds a program that will allow the state government to send out special agents to confiscate firearms from individuals who are prohibited from owning them.
According to the state’s Bureau of Firearms, there are roughly 20,000 Californians who, following a criminal conviction, a domestic restraining order or a judge’s ruling that they are mentally defective, are no longer allowed to possess firearms.
In total, records show that these individuals hold 40,000 handguns and so-called ‘assault’ weapons, with the list growing by 15 to 20 everyday, as CNN reported.
Under the bill, the government will appropriate $24 million to hire 36 additional agents and run the records system which functions as part of the state’s Department of Justice. That money will come from the Dealers’ Record of Sale Special Account, which is essentially a tax gun owners pay when they buy a firearm in the Golden State.
“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,” Evan Westrup, a spokesman for the governor, told the LA Times.
The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), echoed those thoughts and praised the governor for moving so expeditiously to approve this confiscation campaign.
“We’re pleased the Governor signed the bill as quickly as he did because there is urgency in confiscating these weapons,” Leno said. “And in light of the partisan stalemate in Washington on this issue, and despite strong gun lobbying in opposition to this bill… I am very proud of my colleagues for voting so overwhelmingly in support.”
However, the SB 140 certainly has some critics. Among them, Sam Paredes, the executive director of Gun Owners of California.
“Going after criminals is a good thing, but the way they are paying for it is grossly unfair,” Paredes said. “They are putting the entire burden on the back of law-abiding gun purchasers.”
View more videos at: http://nbcbayarea.com.
Other opponents of the program believe that it could be the start of something larger, a way to eventually snatch ‘illegal’ or banned firearms from law-abiding gun owners.
“I think taking away from the crazy people is a good idea,” gun rights advocate Toni Scurti told an NBC affiliate. “But I’ve said this before, I think crazy people will always be able to get guns.”
“It will get broader,” she continued. “Yeah, I think that’s just the way of them to start cause they don’t believe anyone should have guns.”
But gun control proponents disagree, arguing that the law poses no threat to responsible gun owners and is the epitome of common sense gun reform.
“This makes enormous sense and is one of the only ways available to reduce access to already purchased firearms,” Deborah Azrael, associate director of the Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center, told HuffPost earlier this month.
“Universal background checks, as much as we should have them, can affect only the next gun purchased, not the sizable reservoir of guns already out there,” she added.
What are your thoughts? Would you support a federal confiscation program that goes after criminals and the mentally ill?