CA: Police join larger effort to confiscate guns from prohibited owners

Some of the 55 guns collected in the Long Beach PD's Prohibited Possessor Operation (Photo: Long Beach PD)

Some of the 55 guns collected in the Long Beach PD’s Prohibited Possessor Operation (Photo: Long Beach PD)

Police in Long Beach announced that a unit set up to help track down and collect firearms from some of the 20,000 Californians believed prohibited from possessing them is having some successes.

In a release from the LBPD, the agency details that two detectives have been assigned since April to the Prohibited Possessor Operation. These investigators, with support from the Gang Unit, have been searching the California Department of Justice’s Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS) to identify local residents who may be in possession of firearms that had been registered prior to being convicted of a crime which stripped their gun rights. Once identified, the unit started making house calls.

“This operation involved extensive and time-consuming investigations on the part of detectives, including the service of 10 search warrants, 86 probation searches and assisted with 42 DOJ searches,” reads the statement.

So far this year the department has made 30 arrests and recovered 55 firearms, primarily handguns.

Larger effort

With this Long Beach joins in the efforts of the CA DOJ who maintain a 70-officer unit, founded in 2001, which is tasked with seizing once legally owned firearms from those who have been adjudicated no longer eligible to have them by the state.

Funded in part from mandatory Dealer Record of Sales (DROS) fees paid during gun purchases in California, the state’s gun collection squad has seen some $24 million funneled into its efforts this year as well as legislation passed to help expand their database.

However, this dragnet has caught a few unintended legal gun owners in its net.

In August last year, an Upland, California, man had his guns confiscated by the state after his wife checked into the hospital following an adverse reaction to a change in medication. Citing incorrect hospital charts, the state came to get their guns nine months later, only to return them after the mistake was uncovered.

In a separate case in November, a Bakersfield man expressed disbelief when armed agents came to his door to seize 18 guns when he flagged in the APSS system. The reason for the raid came from a forty-year-old charge for marijuana possession that is no longer even listed in the state’s criminal code. After holding his guns for two weeks, agents returned them once the mistake was realized.

Now, with a ballot referendum passed into law by voters earlier this month that reduces penalties for non-violent offenders such as drug possession and property crimes to misdemeanors, it is conceivable that those in the APSS database could be further out of date.

Further, those who are currently prohibited from possessing a firearm due to past convictions for crimes that have now been reduced, can petition to have their rights restored– which could mean that the size of the  DOJ’s hotsheet may soon shrink.

Or that more residents will have confusing interactions with police over guns that may or may not be legally in their possession.