About two years ago the state gave the Department of Justice $24 million to whittle down the Armed Prohibited Persons, or APPS, list. Since that time, the number of people on the list has fallen from more than 20,000 to about 16,000. But lawmakers say that’s not enough.
Republican Senator Joel Anderson says the Department's Bureau of Firearms has never been able to fully address all the APPS cases.
"I mean I’d like to see that we stop future backlogs while we address old backlogs," he says. "But we’re not even stopping- we’re creating a backlog this year."
Anderson asked whether staffing levels should be changed. The bureau has had high turnover. Bureau Chief Stephen Lindley says staff turnovers have hamstrung enforcement. Of the 48 agents hired since July, 2013, 38 have left. Lindley says many of them were temporary hires.
"Some of them transferred to other bureaus and they were leaving our limited-term positions to go to permanent positions in other bureaus," he says. "And it’s very difficult to tell an employee that they have to take a temporary job in lieu of a permanent one."
Democratic Senator Mark Leno says the slow progress is a consequence of state hiring policy that favors temporary employment.
"As budget chair we are always as concerned about outgoing expense in out years that we put limitations on these new hires," he says. "But the unintended consequence is we can’t hire and we can’t hold onto people because they know they’ve got a very limited job."
Chief Lindley was ordered to return in a month with suggestions for improving enforcement.