LA Conducts Gun Buyback in Wake of Newtown Shootings

The city has been exchanging grocery gift cards for surrendered weapons since January 2009.

So many Angelenos turned in their handguns, rifles and assault weapons on Wednesday as part of a buyback program that offered gift cards in exchange for firearms that the LAPD had to replenish its supply of gift cards by $25,000.

The city has conducted the gun buybacks since 2009. Nearly 8,000 guns have been surrendered through the program, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Since 2009, violent crimes, gang crimes, and the number of people shot have all gone down by a third, according to the LAPD.

"We know that statistics show that you're more likely to have your gun used in an accident or stolen than you are using it to protect yourself against an intruder," Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Wednesday.

Some gun owners surrendering their weapons on Wednesday said they did so because they'd feel safer without a firearm.

"Too many things are happening today," said Denise Jones. "You don’t know if someone is gonna get upset and if they know you have it, they go for it. Anything could happen. I just thought it’d be a good thing to turn it in."

"All these accidents that have been occurring lately, I don't think it's worth it to have one at home," said Alex Gonzalez, who surrendered a rifle at Wednesday's buyback.

The buyback ran from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Van Nuys Masonic Temple, 14750 Sherman Way, CA 91405 and Parking Lot No. 6 of the Los Angeles Sports Arena, 3939 South Figueroa St.

Several blocks long, a line of vehicles formed early Wednesday at the Sports Arena parking lot.

"We're looking at any way we can reduce gun violence," said LA City Councilmember Joe Buscaino

When they arrived at the gun buyback location, participants were greeted by personnel who gave them with instructions on how the guns will be removed from their vehicles. Police officers then took possession of the surrendered guns and the citizens were offered a gift card for their surrendered firearm.

About Wednesday's Buyback:

  • Residents can turn in their guns -- anonymously and with no questions asked -- for gift cards worth up to $100 for pistols, shotguns and rifles and up to $200 for assault weapons.
  • Participants will not be asked for identification.
  • The buyback locations are set up in a drive-through configuration.
  • Bring unloaded weapons secured in the trunk of a vehicle.

The buyback usually occurs in May, but the event was rescheduled in the wake of the shooting deaths of 20 schoolchildren and six adult staffmembers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

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