LA County program has seized 10,000 guns from felons since 2000

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An L.A. County program designed to confiscate arms from convicted felons on probation has netted more than 10,000 guns over its 16-year run, L.A. Supervisor Mike Antonovich announced Thursday.

County officials have seized 10,873 weapons and more than $729 million in illegal drugs and drug money since the DISARM program – which stands for “Developing Increased Safety Through Arms Reduction Management” – kicked off in early 2000, Antonovich said. Touting the numbers, he said DISARM was a “good example of successful coordination of law enforcement agencies which should be required in each county in California.”

Under DISARM, L.A. County’s Probation Department works with a number of other government agencies to determine where felons on probation may be hiding guns, drugs or other types of contraband. The Probation Department then conducts unannounced searches – which felons are subject to as a term of their probation – to uncover them.

Since the program began, the county has also seen a significant reduction in the number of probationers found to be violating the terms of their probation. In 2002, 55 percent of felons on probation were out of compliance with their probation terms; that figure dropped to 15 percent in 2016, Antonovich said.

Supervisor Mike Antonovich speaks at a news conference about the DISARM program Thursday, September 8, 2016.
Supervisor Mike Antonovich speaks at a news conference about the DISARM program Thursday, September 8, 2016. Courtesy Mike Antonovich/L.A. County

The supervisor initiated the program in the wake of two violent incidents in 1999: the deadly shooting of the North Valley Jewish Community Center by a white supremacist attacker, and the murder of postal worker Joseph Santos Lleto by a convicted felon from Washington state.

DISARM is separate from a larger California firearms seizure program that targets gun owners who bought arms legally before being convicted of a felony or violent misdemeanor. The statewide program, backed by California Attorney General Kamala Harris, is still dealing with a hefty backlog in tracking cases.  

Tony Bell, a spokesman for Antonovich, told KPCC that DISARM would likely continue and even be enhanced within L.A. County. He added that he feels it should become mandatory for all other California counties.

“It’s a good bang for your buck type of program,” he said. “When you’re taking guns away from those who have a propensity to use guns in the commission of crimes and who have experience doing so, that is a good public safety tool.”

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