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Police Want To End Huge Backlog Of Illegally Owned Guns

23,000 People in California Own Guns Who Shouldn't

Margie Shafer
March 14, 2019 - 2:47 pm

There are more than 23,000 individuals in California who own guns, but shouldn't have them because of criminal convictions or mental illness, according to Attorney General Xavier Becerra. 

But there are only 50 agents, state-wide, assigned to confiscate those weapons and that's a huge problem, according to Paul Kelly, the president of the San Jose Police Officers Association. 

"You do the math," Kelly said on Thursday as he called for more funding and personnel to handle the vast task. "Fifty agents is not enough."

He believes that stark disparity is preventing law enforcement from doing their jobs and keeping the public safe. That's why his officers' union 

His association joins other police departments and unions across the state that want more people to work as "force multipliers," who will work alongside the state Department of Justice to confiscate guns from high risk owners. 

Kelly said that if that 23,000 number could be cut in half in one year, for example, it would make a big difference. “But all it takes is one person and one gun,” he warned. “So we have to just keep chipping away at it.”

Police groups also say they support legislation S.B. 230, which would provide state-wide standards for mental health crisis training—important when officers seek to remove weapons from potentially unstable individuals. 

The bill also provides clarification on when the use of force is considered justified—raising the legal standard for the justified use of deadly force from “reasonable” to “necessary,” when non-lethal alternatives are not available. The legislation comes after several high profile police shootings of unarmed black men, including the killing of 22 year-old Stephon Clark in Sacramento.

It is estimated that a quarter of all officer-involved shootings happen involve people who are in mental distress.

Written by Jordan Bowen.