When Will Attorney General Kamala Harris Make This Right?

How Much Longer? How Many Lives?
Thursday, July 9, 2015
SACRAMENTO – Today the State Auditor released a scathing follow-up audit assessing the Department of Justice’s progress in managing the Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS). Most alarming is the finding that the Attorney General Kamala Harris is redirecting staff away from the backlogged APPS queues to work on other programs despite receiving a $24 million appropriation to clear the backlogs. 
 
“This is very disturbing to learn as it directly conflicts with testimony given us at a legislative hearing this year,” said Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (San Dimas). “DOJ Firearms Bureau Chief Stephen Lindley stated that APPS was ‘a priority program for Attorney General Kamala Harris,’ and that given $25 million it would be possible to eliminate the backlogs within a year. Based on that testimony and given the threat to public safety as was made all too clear with the tragic Sandy Hook incident, we appropriated $24 million to the AG to hire 36 new agents which we were told would fully staff APPS.”
 
Former Chairman of the Board of Prison Terms, Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) added, “Crime rates have increased compared to last year’s numbers. It is incumbent upon our state’s chief justice officer to do more to ensure our public safety.”
 
Also, at a Senate Budget Subcommittee hearing in April, the DOJ attempted to misdirect blame for its failure to clear the backlog to its employees, stating that temporary employees transferring to permanent positions was the issue. As this audit makes abundantly clear, it is mismanagement of resources and not an inability to retain employees that is the problem here. This failure lies squarely under the AG’s control.
 
APPS is a unique database created in 2001. It cross-references firearm owners in California against domestic violence restraining orders and mental health and criminal history records to determine persons who have been, or will become, prohibited from having a firearm subsequent to a lawful purchase.
 
The historical queue, the backlog of persons pending review since the APPS database was instituted in 2006, stands at 257,000 potentially prohibited persons, a backlog the auditor finds may not be cleared until sometime in 2022.
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