According to the California Department of Justice (DOJ) nearly 20,000 Californians possess firearms they are prohibited from having due to criminal convictions, mental illness or being the subject of domestic violence restraining orders. These individuals are in possession of approximately 39,000 guns, including about 1,670 assault weapons.
The DOJ maintains the Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS), an on-line database that cross-references persons who possess a gun and who, subsequent to possession of that gun, are legally prohibited from possession. According to the DOJ, about half of the persons on the APPS list are prohibited possessors due to criminal history, about 30% are due to mental health status, and about 20% are due to active restraining orders. Law enforcement agencies have access to the APPS and are able to identify persons who are prohibited from possessing a gun, and have the legal authority to confiscate those guns.
In September 2013, the Long Beach City Council recognized the need to reinforce the Police Department's efforts in utilizing the APPS to track and confiscate firearms in the hands of prohibited possessors within the City of Long Beach, and provided discretionary funding (as part of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget) to support an operation to get these weapons off the street.
In April 2014, the Prohibited Possessor Operation was implemented and the department assigned two full time detectives, with the support of the Gang Unit, to the operation. Detectives were provided with specialized training for proper investigation and filing of prohibited possessor cases, as well as necessary equipment to effectively conduct the investigations.
Detectives analyzed the APPS and compared it to the list of gun owners registered through The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). These detectives worked diligently, combing through the APPS to identify persons living within the city who were prohibited from owning firearms, yet still documented as being in possession of those firearms. The detectives worked closely with the California DOJ, the ATF, and the Los Angeles County Probation Department in a collaborative effort to locate and remove these firearms from potentially dangerous individuals.
This operation involved extensive and time-consuming investigations on the part of detectives, including the service of 10 search warrants, 86 probation searches and assisted with 42 DOJ searches. The operation concluded on September 31, 2014, yielding significant results as follows:
The department would like to thank the Long Beach City Council for providing the funds to help our efforts in keeping Long Beach safe! The department is proud of the hard work and dedication of the detectives who made these results possible.
If you know anyone who may be in possession of a prohibited firearm, please contact the Long Beach Police Department Gang Enforcement Section at (562) 570-7370. Anonymous tips may be submitted by calling 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), texting TIPLA plus your tip to CRIMES (274637), or visiting www.lacrimestoppers.org.