State agents gave a lesson to lawmakers on what kinds of firearms are lawful and unlawful in California and the ammunition that goes with them.
Then came the stunning revelation: Californians who aren't supposed to own guns do. The Department of Justice even knows about them because the Arms Prohibited System, known as APPS, has identified them. There's just no money to confiscate the weapons.
"We ought to get those guns out of the hands of people who are prohibited," said State Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento).
Steinberg asked how many people and weapons were on the list.
"As of yesterday, there was 19,784 identified in the Arms Prohibited System. That's basically our backlog. They're linked to 38,682 handguns and 1,640 assault weapons," said Stephen Lindley with the California Department of Justice.
Lindley said it would cost about $25 million for 50 law enforcement investigators.
Gun owners have been saying all along that California already has the toughest gun laws in the country and that more aren't needed.
"We do need adequate enforcement of existing laws dealing with illegal use and purchase of firearms. And we need adequate data to determine if the gun laws in place are being enforced," said Tom Pederson with the California Rifle and Pistol Association.
Still, lawmakers want to do more in light of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, such as banning detachable magazines.
"None of these laws will impact those people who are normal, and the next day are insane, are evil," said Sam Paredes with Gun Owners of California.
Former Senate President Don Perata encouraged Democratic lawmakers to use their new Supermajority powers to take on the National Rifle Association, which didn't show up as scheduled for the hearing.
"What you have with the NRA is a very powerful gun lobby with religious fervor," said Perata.
At least a dozen gun control-related bills have already been introduced in California, including one to give more money to the Department of Justice to clear its backlog.