SACRAMENTO, CA (July 18, 2018) — Advocacy group Firearms Policy Coalition announced today new findings about the California Department of Justice (DOJ) “Bullet-Button Assault Weapons” registration system based on data it acquired from DOJ. The information can be viewed or downloaded on their Web site at https://www.firearmspolicy.org/california-bbaw-registration-key-facts-stats.
- DOJ had approved 6,213 individuals to register 12,519 firearms as “assault weapons” as of June 30, 2018
- DOJ processed 12,168 applications for firearm registration between Jan. 5, 2018, and June 30, 2018
- DOJ still had 52,443 applications for firearm registration pending as of June 30
- Based on DOJ’s rate of their application processing between January and May 2018, it would take DOJ another 2.15 years to finish processing the remaining “assault weapon” applications
- The “assault weapon” registration system was originally estimated to cost $55,770 – 429 man-hours billed at $130.00 per hour – but over $113,370 was spent on programming alone
- $119,970 in fees had been collected from gun owners through May 30, 2018
- DOJ received funding to hire “24 analysts and two managers” to process “bullet-button assault weapon” registration applications, but those are “limited term positions that will cease to exist one year after these employees’ start dates”
In 2016, when Governor Brown signed into law the two “bullet-button assault weapon” ban bills SB 880 and AB 1135, the statutory deadline was set at January 1, 2018. But, after a series of blunders and delays, DOJ requested that the deadline be extended to give them more time to open up the registration system. The Legislature responded by passing an amendment to the laws in 2017’s AB 103, a “budget trailer” bill, which changed the deadline to June 30, 2018. But DOJ was unable to get their problem-riddled system online until August 2017.
In a declaration filed by lawyers for Attorney General Xavier Becerra in January, Special Agent Supervisor for the Bureau of Firearms, Blake Graham, said that “DOJ spent six months designing and testing the electronic registration system required by law.” But, according to Graham, the “programmers who created this system for DOJ” were moved off the registration system and working on other DOJ projects by January of this year.
Rather than setting up a functional, stand-alone registration system that could handle the expected volume of applications, the DOJ instead opted to build a burdensome, highly-complicated system within another DOJ Web application platform already under development, called the California Firearms Application Reporting System (CFARS).
DOJ issued a change order to the $1.49 Million CFARS contract to contractor Celer Systems, Inc., of Folsom for the additional work to create and integrate the “bullet-button assault weapon” registration application into CFARS. But the registration system, which was experiencing problems even in 2017, crashed completely for many gun owners during the last week of the registration period.
As of June 30, DOJ still had 52,443 pending applications to register firearms as “assault weapons,” which FPC estimated might take DOJ another 2.15 years to go through based on their rate of application processing between January and June. According to Deputy Attorney General Robert Wilson, a lawyer for the DOJ’s Bureau of Firearms, an application that is being processed is not considered to be registered. The applications’ “pending” status leaves thousands of gun owners in legal limbo, in addition to those that were prevented from registering altogether.
“Some say that the United States Marines are who you call when something ‘absolutely, positively has to be destroyed overnight’,” said FPC President Brandon Combs. “Apparently, Attorney General Becerra and his DOJ are who you call when you absolutely, positively need to waste hundreds of thousands of dollars on something that will fail when it matters most.”
Last week, FPC joined three other advocacy groups and individual gun owners in filing a new civil rights lawsuit challenging the DOJ’s failed “assault weapon” registration system, which prevented gun owners from complying with the laws before the July 1 deadline. Information about that case can be found at https://www.firearmspolicy.org/sharp.
The groups have another active lawsuit over the “assault weapon” regulations, Holt v. Becerra, in Riverside County Superior Court.
Firearms Policy Coalition (www.firearmspolicy.org) is a 501(c)4 grassroots nonprofit organization. FPC’s mission is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, especially the fundamental, individual Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.