John Cádiz Klemack
In the second LA-area gun buyback event since the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., hundreds of Angelenos surrendered their weapons in exchange for gift cards. The LA County Sheriff’s event netted far fewer guns than LAPD’s Dec. 26 event, held shortly after the Connecticut mass shooting. John Cádiz Klemack reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Jan. 21, 2013.
A second Los Angeles-area gun buyback event on Monday generated far fewer firearms than a similar event held shortly after the shootings in Newtown, Conn., that left 27 dead.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department accepted weapons in exchange for gift cards at a Ralphs store, as did the Los Angeles Police Department during its Dec. 26 event.
On Monday afternoon, the sheriff's department collected fewer than 400 weapons. The LAPD event brought in more than 2,000.
The seven-hour exchange Monday was held in the parking lot of a Ralphs at 280 E. Compton Blvd. The department offered gift cards in the amount of $200 for an assault weapon, $100 for a handgun and $50 for a shotgun.
A total of 386 guns were turned over Monday, according to sheriff's department officials:
Jeff Wassenaar of Bellflower surrendered a machine gun at the event.
"I came across it years ago, and there was no use for it," Wassenaar said. "Times have changed and people have changed."
Unloaded weapons were placed in the trunk of a vehicle and surrendered to deputies. Several who brought in guns said they had belonged to deceased family members and now provoked anxiety and fear.
Sheriff's department spokeswoman Nicole Nishida said the event allowed members of the public to "safely and anonymously" turn over guns.
The firearms will be cross-checked by serial number to determine if they were stolen. If so, they'll be returned to their legal owners. But the firearms will not be checked for any association with past crimes.
"Our goal is to take these guns off the streets. It's heartbreaking to see that sometimes these guns may have been used in crimes, but we just don't know," Deputy Jose Aguirre said.
Monday's event comes after 2,037 firearms were collected at a Los Angeles Police Department gun buyback in late December. The gun buyback is usually conducted in May, but organizers moved the date to December in response to the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
The event brough the number of firearms collected since the LAPD program began to 9,979. Weapons collected Dec. 26 included 901 handguns, 698 rifles, 363 shotguns, and 75 assault weapons, according to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's office.
A rocket launcher also was surrendered.