Santa Ana is joining the list of communities trying to get residents to turn in their guns. Ted Chen reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013.
Santa Ana residents surrendered their weapons in exchange for gift cards Saturday during the city’s first-ever gun buyback event.
Authorities offered $100 gift cards for handguns and rifles, and $200 gift cards for assault weapons. There is a $300 maximum per car. The gift cards are for Northgate Gonzalez Market, Stater Bros, Target or Walmart.
About 150 firearms had been turned in by 11 a.m., with about 100 of those weapons surrendered within the first 30 minutes of the buyback. A 30-round magazine and a silencers were also netted.
Police said the weapons will be destroyed.
Rouchelle Shanks was inspired to surrender her guns while watching the funeral of one of the deputies allegedly killed by rogue ex-police officer Christopher Dorner.
"I was very moved by that and I thought that, look, if we want to do our parts as citizens, let's try to turn in any guns we're not using," she said. "They're laying around my mom's house, too."
Charles Thai said he no longer used his A-1 carbine, so he exchanged it for a $200 gift card.
"I don't go firing anymore to a firing range and I think it's not good to keep around the house because it can be misused by someone else," he said.
The five-hour event operated in a drive-thru style. Gun owners were told to arrive at the Santa Ana Bowl with the weapons in their trunk. Officers then retrieved the weapons while the driver stayed in the car.
Participants were required to show proof they live in Santa Ana to retrieve a gift card. Non-residents could surrender their weapons, but were not eligible for gift cards.
In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, LAPD's gun buyback last December netted more than 2,000 firearms and residents waited in line for hours to exchange their weapons for gift cards. A Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department event on Jan. 21 in Compton brought in fewer than 400 weapons.
"My 10-year-old continuously asks me 'why are all these violent acts,' and it’s becoming more and more difficult to come up with a rational response," councilman Vincent Sarmiento said during a Thursday news conference announcing Santa Ana's buyback.
During that news conference, Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido said the city "ought to do what we can in order to address" gun violence.
Pulido cited a Feb. 19 shooting rampage through Orange County that left four people dead as evidence that the city needed to work on gun violence, saying the deadly attack allegedly committed by Ali Syed "is probably not the end."
Critics contend that with Californians buying close to 2,000 guns per day, buyback programs are a drop in the bucket.
Gun violence in the city has declined in the past decade, but Police Chief Carlos Rojas said most guns used in crimes are stolen, and every bit helps.
"I understand that from my position this isn't a long term solution to stem gun violence," Rojas said Thursday. "What I can guarantee is the guns that are taken into our custody on Saturday will not be used in a crime here in our city."