How Many Illegal Firearms Has California Confiscated?


Since July 1, 2007, California has confiscated 11,225 illegal firearms — including a handful of grenades — and 361,210 ammunition. A total of 10,741 people have been investigated. Click here to enlarge image.   

By Elizabeth Shell

In California, the government is going after people’s guns. 

That is, Californians who own them illegally. There are currently about 20,000 people on California’s books who bought guns legally but have since lost the right to have them — but haven’t turned their guns in. 

How does this happen, you ask? State and federal laws make it illegal for people to own or possess firearms for a variety of reasons, including having a felony conviction, being a wanted person, being under a restraining order or having a history of mental illness. After a spate of murders involving people who were prohibited from owning forearms, the California state legislature passed a law in 2001 requiring the confiscation of weapons from those prohibited to have them. 

In 2007, the state made its first sweep. Law enforcement officials cross-referenced databases of folks who had legally purchased firearms since 1996 against another database showing individuals who were prohibited from having them. This project, known as the Armed and Prohibited Persons System, gave authorities a list of people who fell into both categories — those who bought guns legally but were now illegally owning them. 

Above is how the state has progressed each year in confiscations since 2007. A bill passed in April grants law enforcement $24 million to help expedite the process of confiscating firearms and ammunitions.

2007 data for July 1 to December 31. 2013 data for January 1 to June 30. The state did not provide date for confiscated ammunition for years prior to 2011.

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