California Attorney General Kamala Harris today lauded the passage and signing of legislation providing funding for a program to take guns away from prohibited people around the state.

Senate Bill 140, authored by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown today.

The legislation provides $24 million in funding to allow the attorney general to hire 36 additional agents for the Armed and Prohibited Persons (APPS) program.

The program, which Harris said is the only one of its kind in the nation, uses existing databases to find people who previously registered for and purchased firearms but were later prohibited from owning them.

People can become prohibited from owning a firearm if they are convicted of a felony or violent misdemeanor, deemed to be mentally unstable or are placed under a domestic violence restraining order.

Harris said the legislation, will “give the resources that are necessary to remove over 40,000 firearms” that are possessed illegally in the state.

She was joined in San Francisco by the city’s police chief, Greg Suhr, who called today “a great day in California.”

Suhr said gun arrests are up nearly double from the same time last year in San Francisco and that the legislation will help make the city safer.

Harris said she has talked to Vice President Joe Biden urging him to make APPS a national model, calling it “a commonsense, practical approach” to fighting crime.

She said the additional agents will help because at least six go out at a time when they check on people in the database who are known to have either a history of violence or mental instability.

“It’s potentially a very dangerous situation,” she said.

Over the past two years, state Department of Justice agents have investigated nearly 4,000 people and seized nearly 4,000 weapons, including more than 300 assault weapons, according to the attorney general’s office.

The funding for the additional agents comes from a fund created by fees paid by gun owners at the time of purchase.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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