More than 7,000 handguns, rifles and other weapons were destroyed Thursday as part of the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department's 23rd annual Gun Melt event, authorities said.
The sheriff's department and other police agencies confiscated 7,044 firearms that will be melted and recycled into steel rebar for use in constructing freeways, bridges, roads and buildings across California, authorities said.
Sheriff Jim McDonnell joined other law enforcement officials at the annual event Thursday morning at the Gerdau Steel Mill in Rancho Cucamonga, where more than 180,000 firearms have been destroyed over the past 23 years. This year's event marked the largest gun melt since the program's inception more than two decades ago, according to authorities.
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The weapons include handguns, rifles and automatic weapons collected in criminal investigations, probation seizures and guns turned in by citizens at collection events.
Thursday's gun melt came less than a month after Gerdau recycled another 2,100 pounds of confiscated guns from the Hemet Police Department.
Last year, Gerdau held 40 gun melts with law enforcement agencies in Southern California and melted approximately 20,000 weapons and other confiscated items, according to authorities.