California Lags in Checks on Prohibited Gun Ownership


A program to determine whether potentially dangerous people own guns in violation of California law is plagued with delays that pose a “continued risk to public safety,” reports the Los Angeles Times. State Auditor Elaine M. Howler said the California Department of Justice failed over 18 months to fully implement seven of eight recommendations auditors made in 2013 to reduce backlogs. During the first quarter of 2015, the department had about 3,600 reports in a daily queue of persons potentially prohibited from owning guns, the audit said. The department's goal was to keep that number at no more than 600.

The Justice Department cross-references databases to find people who legally purchased guns before they became ineligible because of a severe mental illness or criminal history. The department must then verify that the matches are correct. Matches remain in a daily queue until they are reviewed. About two-thirds of those barred from firearm ownership are felons or have a violent history. One-third are in the system because of mental illness. “The longer it takes Justice to review the records in its backlogs, the longer armed prohibited persons keep their firearms, which increases the risk to public safety,” Howler wrote.

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