California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation into law allocating funds to help confiscate tens of thousands of illegally-owned firearms.
The law directs $24 million towards identifying and seizing assault weapons owned by convicted criminals and people with serious mental illnesses, reports The Huffington Post
It is one of 30 gun-control bills drafted by California lawmakers following the Dec. 14 shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 children and six educators dead.
“Today, each California community is a step closer to being safer,” Democratic Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said in a statement Wednesday.
“This swift action by the legislature and the governor to enforce the laws we already have is a wise and worthy investment to reduce gun violence,” he added.
California authorities have been plagued by funding and staffing shortages that have apparently hindered their ability to confiscate what, according to the state Bureau of Firearms, is a three-year backlog of some 40,000 guns owned illegally by nearly 20,000 people.
Opponents of the measure, however, argue that the fund should be used for background checks rather than confiscation.
“For example, if you go to the DMV and pay for a driver’s license, that fee is for processing the driver’s license, not for setting up sting operations for catching drunk drivers,” Republican Assemblyman Brian Jones told the Post last month.
“If the legislature wants to raise extra funds for the [California Department of Justice], it would have to impose a tax on firearms sales, which requires a two-thirds vote,” he said.
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