California to Audit Owners Losing Right to Bear Arms

California will audit its program that confiscates guns for residents who are prohibited from possessing them, to ensure those who are disqualified are reported promptly.

Lawmakers on the Joint Legislative Audit Committee approved a request for the review. Republicans sought the inquiry, citing a 2010 study of states other than California by the National Center for State Courts that found fewer than half of those who should have been reported to local police for background checks were processed.

California is the only state that tracks and disarms people with legally registered guns who have lost the right to own them, according to Attorney General Kamala Harris. Almost 20,000 gun owners in the state are prohibited from possessing firearms, including convicted felons, those under a domestic-violence restraining order or deemed mentally unstable.

“Keeping guns out of the hands of felons and other individuals who have been deemed ineligible to possess firearms is vital,” Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, a Republican from San Luis Obispo, said yesterday.

Since California was not one of the states in the 2010 study, Achadjian said a thorough review is needed to determine if state and local officials were reporting and processing the necessary information.

The Dec. 14 killings of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the second deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, reignited a national debate over gun-control laws, stricter bans on assault weapons and better screening and care for the mentally ill.

California’s no-gun list is compiled by cross-referencing files on almost 1 million handgun and assault-weapon owners in the state with databases of new criminal records and involuntary mental-health commitments. About 15 to 20 names are added to the list each day, according to the attorney general’s office.

These individuals are supposed to be immediately reported to the state Justice Department. Local police can check the list when conducting background checks for gun purchases. Someone who is on the prohibited persons list would not be allowed to legally purchase a firearm.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael B. Marois in Sacramento at mmarois@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at smerelman@bloomberg.net

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