Last week, Assembly Republicans filed a request for a state audit examining the reporting of individuals with mental illnesses who possess firearms to the California Department of Justice, KPCC's "KPCC News" reports (Small, "KPCC News," KPCC, 2/15).
State law enforcement officials have the authority to seize weapons from individuals not permitted by law to own them.
However, at a joint legislative hearing in January, Stephen Lindley -- chief of the state Department of Justice's Bureau of Firearms -- said that staff shortages and funding cuts have led to delays in disarming more than 19,700 Californians who have mental illnesses or have been convicted of felonies.
Lindley said such individuals -- who are recorded in the state's Armed Prohibited Persons database -- now own a total of about 39,000 firearms.
He said that the state each year investigates and seizes the guns of about 2,000 individuals listed in the database. However, Lindley added that each year about 3,000 names are added to the system.
He said, "Despite our best efforts, the bureau does not have the funding or resources to keep up with this annual influx."
Earlier this month, Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) announced a package of 10 bills that would strengthen gun control regulations. The package includes a measure that would boost efforts to prohibit people with mental illnesses and felons from owning guns (California Healthline, 2/8).
Details of Audit Request
The audit request -- by Assembly members Katcho Achadjian (R-San Luis Obispo) and Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa) -- seeks a review of whether information about individuals with mental illnesses who possess firearms is being fully and immediately reported to the DOJ.
The audit request states that immediate reporting of such information to the DOJ is important because law enforcement officials use it when conducting background checks for gun purchases.
Achadjian said, "It is troubling to think that dangerous mentally ill individuals who are prohibited from possessing a firearm may be able to obtain a gun because government officials are not doing their job as required by law."
Mansoor said, "No one who is prohibited should be able to slip through the cracks and obtain a firearm because government officials failed to report this vital information. This audit is critical to ensuring the public’s safety is upheld, and I hope it is approved without delay" (The Fresno Post