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May 10, 2021
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Armed and prohibited persons system program report

April 9, 2021

The California Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the release of the 2020 Armed and Prohibited Persons System (APPS) annual program report. In 2006, the State of California became the first and only state in the nation to establish a system for tracking firearm owners who fall into a prohibited status. The APPS database works to identify individuals who procured firearms and later became prohibited from legally owning them. In general, prohibited persons in APPS include individuals who were convicted of a felony or violent misdemeanor, were placed under a domestic violence or other restraining order, or suffer from serious mental illness.

The Bureau of Firearms (BOF) within DOJ’s Division of Law Enforcement leads the Department’s APPS efforts. The 2020 APPS report provides an analysis of the APPS database and also describes the ways enforcement staff were able to pivot to continue enforcement efforts during the unique challenges presented by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Key statistics from the 2020 report include: 

• As of January 1, 2021, the APPS database had 23,598 armed and prohibited persons.

• Last year, special agents recovered 1,243 firearms. Of these, 778 were firearms identified in the APPS database and 465 were not previously known to be associated with a prohibited individual in APPS. 

• In 2020, DOJ investigated approximately 5,322 individuals who were identified as armed and prohibited persons in the APPS database.

• As of January 1, 2021, there were 9,083 active APPS cases. 

The COVID-19 pandemic brought on a surge in firearm and ammunition sales, including numerous attempted purchases by APPS individuals who are prohibited from owning and/or possessing firearms and/or ammunition. The critical nature of APPS operations meant that the BOF had to be mindful of reducing the risk of COVID-19 exposure to staff and the public and develop strategies that would allow them to continue the work of protecting the public during social distancing, self-isolation, and travel restrictions. BOF included in its APPS investigative efforts, a focus on APPS individuals who demonstrated active possession of firearms by attempting to purchase ammunition. This new process has allowed BOF to use information from recently denied ammunition eligibility checks of APPS individuals to maximize its investigations and continue to disarm prohibited individuals.  

BOF crime analysts, special agents, and special agent supervisors work to locate and disarm prohibited persons identified through the APPS database, in order to prevent and reduce incidents of violent crime. BOF serves the people of California through education, regulation, and enforcement actions regarding the manufacture, sale, ownership, safety training, and transfer of firearms and ammunition. BOF staff are leaders in providing firearms expertise and information to law enforcement, legislators, and the general public in a comprehensive program to promote legitimate and responsible firearms possession and use by California residents. The Bureau of Firearms is looking to hire additional Special Agents and more information on assessments for relevant job openings can be found on the California Department of Justice website here: https://oag.ca.gov/careers/exams.