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CRPANews Alert: DOJ Aggressive APPS Enforcement in Los Angeles

October 9, 2018

DOJ and Los Angeles County Sheriff Announce Aggressive Firearm Confiscation Efforts

California gun owners are all to familiar with DOJ’s failed Armed Prohibited Person System (APPS). After appropriating over $24 million in taxes collected from California gun owners for its funding, DOJ has utterly failed to reduce the current backlog of individuals listed in APPS. But today, DOJ is doubling down by announcing a joint operation with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

According DOJ’s press release, the joint operation is expected to be completed sometime in December 2018. The fact that enforcement of APPS requires a “special” joint operation, however, highlights one of the core fundamental problems with the program. As CRPA reported in the July-August 2018 edition of the Firing Line Magazine, the number of individual APPS cases being processed per year has dropped from over 2,100 in 2012 to an all-time low of just 400 in 2017. Yet somehow, the number of DOJ agents assigned to the APPS program over those same years nearly tripled in size.

This fact was not lost on the Senate Budget Subcommittee, who earlier this year scolded Attorney General Becerra and former DOJ Bureau of Firearms Chief Stephen Lindley for their handling of the program. One lawmaker went so far as to quip how we can somehow send a man to the Moon, yet it is seemingly impossible for DOJ to reduce the APPS backlog.

What did DOJ do in response? Launch this joint operation and brag about. And therein lies the problem—for “operations” such as this are nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Their sole purpose is to distract both lawmakers and the public from the utter failure of DOJ to reduce the APPS backlog.

But don’t just take our word for it. DOJ’s Automated Firearm System (AFS) database contains all the firearm registration records for California residents. Generally, when an individual listed in AFS as owning a firearm also has a criminal record prohibiting them from owning or possessing a firearm, an APPS file is created. Yet even the Attorney General has stated that California’s law enforcement “consider the data in AFS to be unreliable for indicating whether a person currently possesses a firearm.” It is only natural to assume, therefore, that APPS is equally unreliable in determining whether a person is in fact an armed prohibited person.

This is especially true as applied to today’s announcement. Notably absent from DOJ’s press release are the number of individuals DOJ has contacted who in fact are not prohibited or in possession of a firearm. No doubt countless hours of precious law enforcement resources have been wasted “investigating” such persons—resources that could have been better spent addressing actual criminal activity.

In one such instance, several armed DOJ agents contacted an individual with a prior misdemeanor conviction that was not in fact a prohibiting offense. The agents claimed his misdemeanor was in fact a felony and that his criminal record was a “mistake,” while simultaneously claiming they would have to confiscate the individual’s firearms. Only after asserting his rights and refusing their demands were the DOJ agents forced to leave empty handed.

In another example, a group of armed DOJ agents contacted a person who was in fact prohibited.

Although this person did at one point lawfully own firearms, they had since disposed themselves of their firearms upon becoming prohibited. But their AFS records still listed them as owning firearms. To correct this, they filed a “Notice of No Longer in Possession” form under penalty of perjury. Yet DOJ refused to process the form because the individual had no records of the transfer—a transfer which took place nearly two decades ago. DOJ agents nevertheless demanded entry into their home to search for the missing firearms. After refusing their demands, one agent instructed the individual to file a report with their local police department stating the firearm had been lost or stolen. But doing so would amount to filing a false police report (the firearm was never actually lost or stolen) and would subject them to potential perjury charges.

While these are only a few examples of DOJ’s gross mishandling of APPS, law abiding gun owners should be aware they too can easily be ensnared. To better assist gun owners in asserting their rights while interacting with law enforcement, CRPA has produced a helpful guide discussing in detail one’s Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights.

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DOJ and Los Angeles County Sheriff Announce Aggressive Firearm Confiscation Efforts

California gun owners are all to familiar with DOJ’s failed Armed Prohibited Person System (APPS). After appropriating over $24 million in taxes collected from California gun owners for its funding, DOJ has utterly failed to reduce the current backlog of individuals listed in APPS. But today, DOJ is doubling down by announcing a joint operation with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

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