A California system that tracks down people banned from owning firearms and seizes the weapons might have prevented the mass shooting in which at least 26 people were killed in a Texas churchin Sutherland Springs, Texas, the law’s advocates believe.
Authorities say Devin Kelley, 26, opened fire on worshipers Sunday in Sutherland Springs. About 20 other people were wounded. Kelley fled after a citizen fired on him and took his own life a short time later.
According to the Washington Post, Kelly was court-martialed in 2012 and sentenced to a year in military prison for assaulting his wife and child. Under both California and and federal law, Kelley was prohibited from owning firearms because of the domestic violence conviction. However, California is the only state that actively tries to check on those possessing firearms in violation of the laws.
The California Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS) sends armed agents from the state’s Department of Justice to localities in search of violators. In addition to those banned from owning weapons because they are convicted of felonies and certain misdemeanors, the agents may also target those who have been ordered to turn over weapons because they are subject to restraining orders.
The system cross-references five databases to find people who legally purchased handguns and registered assault weapons since 1996 with people banned from owning or possessing firearms.
In 2015, the state Attorney General’s Office said that more than 2,000 weapons were seized under the program. The state estimates that there are more than 20,000 prohibited persons in California in control of more than 43,000 firearms.
The system is funded by a $24 million surplus from funds paid during firearms purchases. That part of the program is unpopular with gun-rights groups, including Barry Bauer of Herb Bauer Sporting Goods in Fresno, who is part of a federal lawsuit challenging the funding system.