Long Beach police have seized more than 900 guns this year

Long Beach police have recently dedicated more officers to getting guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them, and the department says it’s paying off.

So far this year, the LBPD says its patrol officers along with a specialized team have seized over 940 firearms from convicted felons, domestic abuse suspects, people with a history of severe mental illness and others who are barred from having guns.

That number has grown compared to 2018, LBPD spokeswoman Arantxa Chavarria said. At about this time last year, officers had seized around 770 guns, she said.

The LBPD says its gang detail has been especially proactive recently about getting guns off the street. Last year, the department formed a special “prohibited possessor” team designed to identify and locate people in Long Beach who have firearms even though they’re prohibited from possessing them.

Although the team was formed in 2018, this year is the first year they’ve been fully operational and focusing specifically on this problem, Chavarria said.

The team has been using court records to track down suspects or convicts who’ve been ordered to turn over their guns but haven’t, according to the LBPD.

Long Beach police said they've put an extra emphasis on taking guns from people who shouldn't have them, including these seized in Whittier on Nov. 19, 2019. Photo courtesy the LBPD.

Long Beach police said they’ve put an extra emphasis on taking guns from people who shouldn’t have them, including these seized in Whittier on Nov. 19, 2019. Photo courtesy the LBPD.

“Prohibited possessors are individuals who have been convicted of all felonies, such as assault with a deadly weapon or felony drug related offenses, certain misdemeanors, suspects of domestic abuse, and certain individuals with a history of severe mental illness,” the department explained in a statement. “Once the individual has been determined to be a prohibited possessor, they are given a specific amount of time, typically 24-48 hours, to either turn their weapons in to a local law enforcement agency or sell them.”

The team has also been focusing on arresting people who have illegal assault weapons and any parolees or probationers found with guns.

“We are very pleased with the success of this initiative and the hard work these detectives are doing to continue to reduce violent crime, focusing on illegal possession of firearms,” LBPD Chief Robert Luna said. “Their efforts will not end here, as we plan to continue to utilize this initiative as a tool to make additional seizures and arrests in and around our city.”

The team’s efforts have extended beyond Long Beach as well.

Last week, the LBPD helped out with a raid in Whittier where the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives seized 53 guns, including some that had been converted into fully automatic machine guns, according to authorities.

The LBPD said they’ve been able to dedicate more resources to getting guns off the streets because of “Neighborhood Safe Streets” funding the City Council allocated from Measure A, a voter-approved sales tax.

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Jeremiah Dobruck is the breaking news editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his journalism career in 2007 as an intern at Palos Verdes Peninsula News and has worked for The Forum Newsgroup in New York City, the Daily Pilot and the Press-Telegram. He lives in Torrance with his wife, Lindsey, and their two young children.