Gov. Jerry Brown signs law to fund gun seizures

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law a Bay Area senator’s bill to use $24 million from gun background-check fees to boost a program that takes handguns and assault weapons away from those who aren’t legally allowed to have them.

This is the first gun-policy bill to make it to Brown’s desk this year.

SB 140 by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, gives a big boost to the state Justice Department’s Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS), which cross-references the state’s list of handgun and assault-weapon owners with ever-updated lists of newly convicted felons and mental-health commitments. APPS, launched in 2007, had developed a huge backlog; the new law is effective immediately because it was designated an urgency measure.

“While our state is the only one in the nation that has a system to track and identify persons who at one time made legal purchases of firearms but are now barred from possessing them, until now we have lacked sufficient resources to take back those weapons,” Leno said in a news release. “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.”

The Justice Department’s Firearms Bureau has identified about 20,000 Californians who illegally possess an estimated 40,000 handguns and assault weapons, and the list grows longer by 15 to 20 people per day. Attorney General Kamala Harris said the money will let her increase the number of agents who go out and seize these firearms.

Agents last year seized more than 2,000 firearms, 117,000 rounds of ammunition and 11,072 illegal high-capacity magazines in targeted sweeps.

Gun-rights and lobbying groups including the National Rifle Association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the California Rifle and Pistol Association had opposed the bill, saying lawful gun owners shouldn’t pay the cost of such a program; any surplus background-check fee money should be returned or lead to a reduction in the fee, they said.

The Legislature’s final votes on SB 140 were 65-10 in the Assembly and 37-0 in the state Senate.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • GonzoG

    Having gone more than once to the aid of an unarmed person being violently attacked all this does is convince me, never again.

    You unarmed future victims, you are on your own I will NEVER assist any of you again. Thank the anti gunists for whatever happens to you from now on.

  • JohnW


    I take it that Cactus Thorns is against taking guns away from violent felons and mentally unstable people who aren’t supposed to have them. That’s what this is for.

    Whenever somebody proposes any new laws to keep guns from people who aren’t supposed to have them, we are told that we should concentrate on enforcing the laws we already have on the books. We are reminded that there were about 90 thousand failed background checks last year, but that most cases were never prosecuted.

    So, here is a law that merely redirects funds already being generated from background checks, so that they can be used to enforce the law. So, whatever happened to “we should enforce the laws already on the books?”

  • .doris beeler

    Can Jerry Brown be impeached? He certainly is no good for California. Jerry Brown is determined to kill what is left of this once beautiful state!

  • Ray

    This is just the start. The term assault weapon is just used to scare the fools!! ANY one that thinks any of the weapons on the assault weapon list are military weapons is a fool. Check for yourself. This is about disarming you!

  • MH Snider

    This is total bullshit, what part of “Shall NOT be infringed upon” do these assholes NOT understand. Gang members don’t buy legal guns. Someone gets a felony charge for a small amount of drugs, or a felony for not paying taxes, carrying a handgun not in their name, etc; etc; or has a medical pot ID card and the state sends cops out to take guns from otherwise law abiding people. When are we going to wake the hell up and take our country and Constitution back????????

  • JohnW

    Hey, all you freedom fighters. Where is there anything in this law that has anything whatsoever to do with infringing on the rights of law abiding citizens. This just allows the fees from background checks to be used to cover the cost of having law enforcement go take guns from people who aren’t legally allowed to have them. This doesn’t place any new restrictions on gun ownership.

    If you’re going to beat up on Jerry Brown for signing this, then I can only conclude that you are in favor of letting violent felons and mentally deranged people keep the guns they illegally obtained.

  • Mad as hell

    This gone to far. You can Blame this on Dianne fenstien and Boxer. I wonder how mant police departments will enforce this law. Fearing a shoot out, or disregarding with the law. I live in an Aptament. What are they going to do? send swat, or HMS and evacutae the whole Buliding just to Confiscate my guns. Alot of people will die defending the Rights. Does brown Realize what he’s doing and the possability of cival unrest and shoot outs with Law enforcement.

  • MichaelB


    Hey, all you “gun violence prevention” advocates wanting “reasonable” or “common sense” regulations.

    What does forcing law abiding people in this state to turn in their over 10 cartridge magazines, the imposition of an ammunition tax, a permit to purchase ammunition or the requirement of mandatory liability insurance to own/keep a gun (all measures the Democrats want/have introduced in the state legislature) have to do with stopping criminals?

    Nothing. It’s all about regulating gun ownership out of reach for most people/making criminals out of the law abiding. Typical soft on crime nonsense from so called “progressives”. They would rather close down a gun show at the Cow Palace rather than go after the criminals abusing guns on the streets of Oakland.

    We’ll see how Jerry Brown responds to this if any of it reaches his desk for signature. He’ll probably give a canned speech how he really “supports” the 2nd Amendment – but will end up signing at least some of it anyway.

  • JohnW


    Your’e changing the subject. If you want to argue against some of the restrictions and requirements you mentioned, fine. I might even agree with you that there is a tendency to “pile on” without thinking through some of this stuff.

    But the subject was the law that gives law enforcement the resources they need to enforce a law that, so far as I know, even the most ardent Second Amendment warriors agree with — namely that convicted violent felons and people with severe mental disorders are not allowed to own firearms, not even in Texas. And that, if they illegally obtain weapons, we should enforce the law by taking them away and prosecuting them for illegal possession. Respectfully, my question is, are you for or against that?

  • JohnW


    Are you a convicted violent felon? Have you been diagnosed with a severe mental illness? Have you been lawfully ordered to turn in your firearms subsequent to such conviction or diagnosis and not responded? If so, yes, they will come and confiscate your gun. They have successfully done this thousands of times. If your apartment neighbor has served time for armed robbery, domestic violence or assault & battery or is mentally unstable, do you want him to have firearms in his apartment next door to you? In the case of the mentally unstable person, do you want him showing up at your kid’s school someday?

  • Elwood
  • JohnW


    Elwood, I notice that the link solicits donations of $25, $50, $100, $250, or $500. I trust you made a generous contribution to your favorite news source.

    This is perhaps the most straight-forward item I have ever seen from CNS, simply stating the number of gun background checks that have been performed on Obama’s watch. But they left out the “so what” part.

  • Elwood

    @ 14 John W

    John if you don’t understand the “so what” part you must be being deliberately obtuse.

    What part of a dramatic increase in gun sales since our fearless leader took office do you not understand?

  • JohnW


    Obtuse, perhaps. Deliberately, no. The point registered with me after I wrote my comment. Yes, the gun industry has done a fabulous job exploiting Obama Derangement Syndrome as a marketing tool.

  • MichaelB


    No “exploitation” needed. Obama’s anti 2nd Amendment positions/nominees are out there for those bothering to look.

  • MichaelB


    I’m against making legal purchasers of firearms pay for this. It’s a law enforcement/public safety issue. Everyone who has to pay taxes should finance this – not just those buying guns legally.

  • For Liberty

    Those who sacrifice a little security for liberty will have neither. The red coats are coming. Really, the red coats are coming. 4th of July is more than parades and fireworks!!

    Thanks for protecting us Jerry.

  • Elwood

    Obama Derangement Syndrome is confined mainly to the White House, with other outbreaks primarily in large US cities.

  • JohnW


    “I’m against making legal purchasers of firearms pay for this.”

    So, if background checks were free and paid for with general tax revenues, you would come over to the dark side?