Brown’s Actions and His Rhetoric

With California sitting on more than $4.5 billion in expected revenue, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation May 1 spending $25.6 million, all but $1.6 million to fix a problem he and Democratic lawmakers created two years ago when they hamstrung the state’s efforts to take away weapons from Californians prohibited from owning them.

The $1.6 million is contained in AB 113 by Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, a Woodland Hills Democrat, which is aimed at helping Secretary of State Debra Bowen speed up the  processing of the licenses businesses must file  to operate, which reached a record 85-day turnaround time last November. The wait time was still 65 days in March. 

images-1“The sooner Californians can form their businesses, the sooner they can put other Californians to work,” said Brown in signing Blumenfield’s bill, despite proposing to take nearly one-third of the $71 million in business filing fees Bowen receives annually that could be used to improve administration of the program .

Lawmakers and the Democratic governor say they hope to reduce the backlog and processing time of the licenses to 5 days.  Bowen says that will cost several million dollars more in the fiscal year that begins July 1, for which the Legislature has yet to OK additional funds.

During that same fiscal year,  Brown proposes to take $22.3 million in business filing fees that would normally pay for the operation of Bowen’s licensing program and use it to help balance the state’s general fund, according to the Assembly Budget Subcommittee. No. 4 on State Administration analysis of the issue.

The firearms measure – SB 140 by Sen. Mark Leno, a San Francisco Democrat – allows the Department of Justice to spend $24 million in registration fees paid by gun owners to speed up taking away weapons from Californians prohibited from owning them.

Using its Armed Prohibited Persons computer system, the department has identified 38,563 handguns and 1,647 so-called assault weapons in the hands of 19,770 Californians, such as felons or the mentally ill, who the law says can’t possess them.

The database of Californians who previously purchased guns but now are ineligible from ownership grows by about 2,000 persons each year, the department says.

By signing the bill, Brown corrects a problem he helped create by cutting the Department of Justice’s Division of law Enforcement budget by $71 million in 2011.Some of the Weapons Seized by Agents in 2012

Approved by the Legislature, the cuts by Brown, who was attorney general from 2006 to 2010, caused seasoned agents to be transferred from the gun confiscation program to other responsibilities within the division, lowering not only total manpower for the confiscation program but also the experience level of those remaining.

According to the Department of Justice, the $24 million will allow them to hire for a three-year period, 30 special agents, six supervisors and support staff.

That will allow creation of six new gun confiscation teams at a cost of about $8 million per year. 

The Armed Prohibited Persons System was established in 2007. It examines various databanks to determine if persons who have purchased guns since 1996 might have become ineligible over the past 17 years to own guns today.

In 2012, agents seized 2,033 firearms, 117,000 rounds of ammunition and 11,072 illegal high capacity magazines.

The $24 million comes from a surplus in the Dealers Record of Sale Special Account, which is replenished through a $19 fee on gun purchases collected at time of sale.



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