Gun Control Debate 2013: California Targets Criminals By Taking Their Guns

ByDave Hein

California is currently the only state in the country which has created a centralized database of all firearms purchases within the state. This database allows the state to retrieve guns from gun owners who legally purchased guns but are longer legally entitled to own guns because of subsequent criminal convictions, mental illness, or domestic abuse.

In the five years since the law creating the database was passed, over 10,000 weapons have been taken and destroyed. In many cases, the gun owner who illegally possessed the firearm is also arrested and charged with a felony. This is good public safety policy because it is a form of crime control, not gun control. It takes guns out of the hands of criminals and puts them behind bars while allowing law-abiding citizens to own guns for self-defense and sporting use. Additionally, the law requires that the prohibited person has no access to weapons, so all weapons in the home where the person resides must be surrendered or forfeited.

This approach of crime control rather than gun control is supported by gun owners. Sam Paredes, executive director of the Folsom-based advocacy group Gun Owners of California, praised the program, though not how it is funded. "We think that crime control instead of gun control is absolutely the way to go," he said. "The issue we have is funding this program only from resources from law-abiding gun purchasers. This program has a benefit to the entire public and therefore the entire public should be paying through general fund expenditures, and not just legal gun owners."

Currently, the weapons retrieval program is paid for with fees paid by buyers to gun dealers for background checks. California is planning on adding more officers to the existing California Department of Justice task force of 33 to speed up the retrieval of weapons from an estimated 20,000 individuals who are no longer legally allowed to possess weapons. This kind of policy that targets criminals instead of guns, and can make us a safer country.