As many of you will recall, Gene Hoffman recently informed in this CGN thread that DOJ would be pursuing a rulemaking to reduce the DROS fee by $5, the associated fund balance and allow for administrative fee adjustments in the future. CGF immediately initiated an inquiry with the DOJ to ascertain the disposition of the DROS account, operational considerations and the cost and revenue analysis which formed the basis of their proposed $5 DROS fee reduction.
While the $5 fee cut would be somewhat of an improvement, our investigation showed that it was both insufficient and entirely arbitrary. The records and data produced in response to our initial inquiry, as well as the resulting direct communication with DOJ, made clear that significant deficiencies in the State's accounting practices effectively barred any real assessment of the actual cost to operate and maintain the DROS system. As much as this frustrated our goal of a true unit analysis, it highlighted the State's very likely improper use of the 0460 DROS fund as the sole operating account for Bureau of Firearms costs and revenues.
As such, Calguns Foundation has submitted this letter to the DOJ as its testimony on the proposed DROS fee rulemaking. Our position is, essentially, this:
- the State is or has been improperly commingling funds;
- the State's accounting system insufficiently tracks costs and revenues;
- the State could not provide any justification for the fees as shown in its provided schedule;
- the DROS fund surplus continues its growth while the fund's overall cost-per-transaction has declined, effectively converting the DROS fee into a [illegal] tax;
- the State's proposed $5 reduction (making DROS $14/transaction) is insufficient to diminish the DROS account surplus in the near-term and maintain a zero fund balance moving forward;
- CGF supports a reduction in fees, but opposes this proposal as DOJ lacks the proper authority and factual basis; and, finally,
- CGF requested a full audit of State Fund 0460 (DROS) to understand the actual costs and revenues associated to each of the services that are associated to the fund, and create a fee structure which respects the instruction of the California penal code and our state's constitution.
I’d like to thank everyone who contributed on this important project, especially Jason Davis for his outstanding letter and Dustin Laurence (7x57)’s analysis, as well as another Calgunner who’s requested anonymity. Once again, our community shows its relentless dedication to the advancement of gun rights and breaks important new ground with respect to firearm regulations and fees.
Obviously this matter is far from settled and we look forward to keeping you updated as new information is available to share. Needless to say, it’s time this can of worms was opened up, dumped out on the ground and given some of CGF's special kind of 'sunshine treatment'. Freedom isn't free, and we would greatly appreciate your support of this and our many other initiatives.