California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law on Wednesday legislation that provides $24 million in funding to hire another 36 “special agents” to scour neighborhoods starting in July to confiscate an estimated 40,000 firearms owned by citizens, deemed to be illegal owing to reasons that include a diagnosis of mental illness. Those approximately 20,000 owners of those guns likely purchased them legally but because of criminal convictions, restraining orders, or diagnoses of mental illness, under California law they no longer can own them. Said Evan Westrup, a spokesman for the governor’s office:
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.
Calling it an “investment” (the $24 million comes ironically from fees paid by citizens for background checks the state requires in order to purchase a firearm), Mark Leno, the legislator who authored the bill, said, “Our investment in this tracking program gives us the opportunity to confiscate” guns from those who should not have them.
Approximately one-third of those on the list were disqualified due to a conviction for a felony or a violent misdemeanor, one-third because of “mental health” reasons, and the balance because they were deemed to be “dangerous” or subject to restraining orders. The 36 new agents doubles the present roster of enforcers who have already tracked down and seized 4,000 weapons over the last two years. The task is made easier as California is the only state in the union which has a cross-link between gun owners and those on the list of those now deemed to own them illegally.
This falls in line with President Obama’s directives issued a month after the Newtown, Connecticut, shooting, called “Now is the Time” in which he promised to “make sure dangerous people are prohibited from having guns:
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Photo of a table of confiscated guns in California: AP Images