Their Guns Should Be Taken Away, But California Is Falling Behind On Tracking Them Down

Publication: San Francisco Chronicle

The list of California gun owners banned from possessing their weapons grew last year to a record size, as the backlog of cases in a state program to seize the firearms surged by 17% during the coronavirus pandemic.

The state Justice Department reported that it was actively trying to remove guns from 9,083 people at the beginning of 2021, an increase of 1,336 over the prior year — though fewer than in 2019, when Gov. Gavin Newsom significantly increased funding for the unique state confiscation program to help clear an enduring backlog.

The failure to get the backlog under control has frustrated both Democrats and Republicans in Sacramento for nearly a decade, and some are now pushing for changes to the program that could shift more of the work to the local level.

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“There’s a lot more efficient ways to do it,” said Assembly Member Phil Ting, a San Francisco Democrat who chairs the budget committee. He has pushed to have the state continue to coordinate the database while moving more of the enforcement to local law enforcement agencies.

“Unfortunately, the attorney general’s office wasn’t really willing to partner with local law enforcement,” Ting said.