Calif. sweep targets 1,000 illegal gun owners

The Modesto Bee

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Authorities have seized more than 540 guns in recent weeks as part of a statewide crackdown on convicted felons and others banned from owning firearms, California Attorney General Jerry Brown announced Monday.

Attorney General Jerry Brown, seen through the trigger hole of a .50 caliber weapon, announces the results of a crackdown on felons who possess illegally firearms Monday, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Sweeps conducted by state and local law enforcement targeted about 1,000 illegal gun owners in Los Angeles, Redding, Oakland, Fresno, San Jose and other areas throughout California.

"We want people who are not supposed to own guns to get rid of them," Brown said. "We have to keep them under surveillance and that's what we're going to do."

While owners had purchased the guns legally, they were later barred from owning their weapons due to convictions for felonies and violent or firearms-related misdemeanors. Others involved in domestic violence incidents or found to be mentally ill typically must relinquish their guns as well.

Everything from handguns to assault rifles were seized in the last six weeks, with authorities arresting 16 people in the process. In one case, agents found a man with more than 100 weapons in Alameda County.

The crackdown is aimed at what authorities say are the most dangerous individuals. There are about 9,000 others listed in the database, which could eventually include as many as 60,000 people, officials said.

The owners were identified through a state database - known as the Armed and Prohibited Persons System - that matches criminal histories with gun ownership records.

The system was up and running last year. Brown expanded it in June so local police departments could better search for illegal gun owners by area.

Copyright 2007 The Modesto Bee

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