SACRAMENTO - The annual report by the California Department of Justice outlining the status of the state's Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS) was released today by Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and it reflects a systematic failure in the program to remove firearms from individuals who are prohibited from owning them.
In 2013, the staff of then Attorney General Kamala Harris first identified a backlog of 20,721 in the APPS database. At that time, the DOJ promised to eliminate the backlog. As of date, the Attorney General's office has spent more than $70 million on the APPS program. Yet, today's report shows the public's safety is at an increased risk with 23,222 individuals in the APPS database. These individuals are prohibited from possessing firearms. (See Attorney General APPS Report 2018, page 7).
Senate Republicans believe that number and the ongoing lack of progress are unacceptable.
"As the new Attorney General for the state of California, Xavier Becerra has a number of leadership opportunities as it relates to the APPS program. He has an opportunity to work better with law enforcement agencies around the state to assure that weapons are obtained from those when they are convicted of crimes. Mr. Becerra can educate his law enforcement industry counterparts throughout the state that they should inform the Attorney General's office of the successful early acquisition of any and all firearms from prohibited individuals.
"Secondly, the Attorney General needs to work more closely with Human Relations, Information Technology, Memorandum of Understanding bargaining unit negotiators and Budget Analysts to improve his department in the areas of recruitment, competitive remuneration, and state of the art software. Working with the Department of Finance will be more effective than laying managerial concerns at the feet of the Legislature's Budget Committee members. That having been said, I continue to stand ready to assist Mr. Becerra in any manner to assist him in managing his department so that he is successful in removing firearms from individuals who have been identified as inappropriate for this unique privilege," said Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa), Vice Chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee.
In April 2018, Senate Republicans requested the Attorney General conduct an in-depth review of APPS. In addition, Senate Republicans have requested on multiple occasions that the Senate Rules Committee approve a joint oversight hearing to review the APPS program and the lack of progress by DOJ. The requests have received little to no attention.