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California task force seeks to confiscate guns from disqualified individuals

May 18, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A new effort is under way across California to cut down on gun violence, focusing on removing guns from the wrong hands.

State Attorney General Kamala Harris on Friday outlined renewed efforts to confiscate firearms from thousands of Californians who aren't supposed to have them.

"They are individuals who we know have purchased a gun, but are also individuals who were convicted of a felony or they have been found by a court to be mentally ill," she said.

California is the only state in the country that cross references people who purchased a firearm with those who are disqualified from owning them. It's called the Armed Prohibited Persons database. But there is a problem.

"We have, currently, a backlog of 20,000 people in California who are collectively in possession, to our knowledge, of 40,000 firearms," she said.

Harris stood alongside district attorneys from across California in announcing a task force that will work to clear the backlog.

Harris says 30 percent of the Californians on the restricted list are on the list because of mental health reasons.

"To me, this is another tool that I can use to make L.A. safer," said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. Beck says his department has a special task force working on the list.

"We have worked our way, steadfastly, through all the people that are on that list due to mental illness, and we have visited all of their homes and confiscated their weapons," he said.

The list grows by about 100 people a week. Harris and the attorneys general say they hope to have the backlog cleared by 2016.

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