California DOJ Shirks Statutory Duties by Failing to Provide Timely Regulations for the Registration of “Assault Weapons” and Missing the Deadline to Provide Its Report on APPS Spending
The California Department of Justice (“DOJ”) dropped the ball twice recently in failing to execute its statutory duties in a timely manner. First, Penal Code section 30900(b) requires DOJ to publish regulations so that Californians who possess an “assault weapon” without a fixed magazine (e.g., “Bullet-Button assault weapons”) can register them before January 1, 2018. This registration scheme, and the regulations that will implement it, are crucial because they are one of the prerequisites for the continued possession of “assault weapons” affected by the new “assault weapon” laws that took effect on January 1, 2017.
Yet, even though DOJ knew about the need for these “assault weapon” registration regulations in July of 2016, it still has not issued any viable regulations. We are almost done with the first quarter of 2017. Eight months is plenty of time for DOJ to publish regulations governing “assault weapon” registrations. So what has DOJ been doing all this time besides doing what it is supposed to be doing?
As reported earlier, DOJ wasted precious time in drafting and submitting lengthy and illegal regulations to the Office of Administrative Law (“OAL”) regarding “assault weapons.” DOJ submitted these regulations on December 31, 2016, and in response, NRA and CRPA submitted a joint-letter to the OAL and DOJ demanding that the regulations be withdrawn before court action is taken. DOJ then withdrew its regulations on February 10, 2017.
Further indication of DOJ’s executive missteps—and by extension, the mismanagement by the Attorney General’s Office—is DOJ’s failure to meet the March 1, 2017 deadline for the publication of its report on spending for the Armed Prohibited Persons System (“APPS”). Senate Bill 140 (Leno), which added section 30015 to the Penal Code, requires DOJ to give a report by March 1, 2017 to account for its 2016 spending of the money that the Legislature appropriated to DOJ in 2013 to support the APPS program. This money comes from firearm purchasers, is deposited in the Dealers’ Record of Sale (“DROS”) Special Account, and totals $24,000,000. So it is important that the Legislature and the public know what DOJ has been doing with all that money. Last year, DOJ met the March 1 deadline, providing its APPS report in a timely manner. This year, however, DOJ has missed its statutory deadline, as there is no sign of its APPS report being published as of March 6, 2017. Given that the former Attorney General sponsored Senate Bill 140, it is rather embarrassing that DOJ (which carries out the responsibilities of the Attorney General’s Office) failed to meet the deadline that it helped advocate for as part of Senate Bill 140.
As always, DOJ’s delays are frustrating and inexplicable. They hurt both Californian citizens and DOJ’s own public image. CRPA and NRA are putting pressure on DOJ to abide by the law and follow through with its statutory duties. Hopefully, we can expect a little more transparency and timeliness from DOJ soon.