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Paul Wellman (file)

Forbidden Gun Owners Tracked by State Justice Department

Program Finds 96 Santa Barbara County Residents Own Guns Illegally


California is the first and only state in the country with a program that actively tracks and disarms people forbidden from owning guns. The Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS) — enacted by the state’s Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2006 — identifies people who lawfully purchased firearms but then illegally failed to relinquish them after they were convicted of a crime, diagnosed with a mental illness, or otherwise deemed unfit by a judge to own a weapon. Last year, DOJ agents seized 3,685 firearms and 819,343 rounds of ammunition during more than 8,500 investigations.

Ninety-six Santa Barbara County residents are currently named on the APPS list. DOJ spokesperson Jennifer Molina declined to identify the Santa Barbara residents or offer any details on their offenses “as that information is confidential.” According to a 2017 annual report on the program, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office has coordinated with DOJ agents to locate illegal gun owners. Molina did not respond to a request for information on those efforts.

The same annual report details an APPS investigation in Ventura County last year, which resulted in the seizure of one unregistered assault weapon, nine handguns, four shotguns, 21 rifles, and four large-capacity magazines. The unnamed APPS subject, as the offenders are called, had recently been committed to a mental-health facility. In Paso Robles, agents confiscated seven shotguns, three rifles, four handguns, 11 standard-capacity magazines, and 27,113 rounds of ammunition from a man with new criminal convictions.

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