Public safety groups call for removal of 23,000 guns from high-risk people in California

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Law enforcement associations and unions in California said more than 23,000 firearms were in the hands of people who shouldn't have them.

In a press conference Thursday, leaders of the groups asked for help taking 23,200 guns off the hands of convicted criminals and people with severe mental health illness.

Phil Jonas with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Employee Benefit Association (SEBA) said there just weren't enough agents tasked with confiscating weapons from the state's Armed and Prohibited Persons System (APPS).

"Our attorney general, Xavier Becerra, needs the support of local government to augment the approximate 50 agents assigned to recover weapons from the over 22,000 persons listed in the Armed and Prohibited System. You do the math," Jonas said.

The law enforcement leaders used this opportunity to support Senate Bill 230, also known as the Use of Force bill. They said if passed, it will train officers to deal with the mentally ill.

Robert Harris has nearly two decades serving with the Los Angeles Police Department. Harris is the President of Protect California.

"As a patrol officer responding to the scene, you don't necessarily have the time or the education to spend on that one particular call," Harris said.

Peter Bibring, director of police practices with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of California called SB 230 a "cosmetic change."

"It would do nothing to reduce police shootings in California," Bibring said, adding, "it would still fall short of the constitutional minimum for police using deadly force. It would allow officers to kill people even when they pose no immediate threat."

The ACLU instead backed Assembly Bill 392, the California Act to Save Lives. Bibring said it held officers accountable for unnecessary use of force.

Thursday, both bills sat in their respective public safety committees.
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