Some officials around the U.S. are intensifying efforts to confiscate firearms illegally held by convicts and the mentally ill, says the Wall Street Journal. Under federal and most state laws, gun owners lose their right to possess firearms when convicted of a felony or violent misdemeanor, or when they are judged by a court to be mentally ill. Officials tell these people they must surrender guns, but authorities often don’t ensure they do. The sheriff of Cook County, Il., which includes Chicago, has launched a gun-confiscation program; California added agents to take away firearms; and New York enacted a law that paves the way for such a program.
In its first six months, the Illinois unit confiscated nearly 200 guns, with 5,000 more names to check. California has the only statewide program of confiscating guns from people who aren’t allowed to possess them. It adopted its policy in 2007, but for years conducted only periodic sweeps because of a lack of funds. In April, legislators approved $24 million more, funded by fees on gun purchases. After seizing 11,000 guns since 2007, authorities aim to take back 40,000 more firearms from 20,000 people in the next few years.