City's Gun Buyback Program Nets Close to 1,000 Guns

The city also collected 476 handguns, 273 rifles and 170 shotguns for a total of about 950 firearms turned at four locations around the city, including the Valley and Westside.

Patch file photo.
Patch file photo.

Almost 1,000 guns, including 31 assault weapons, were surrendered at Saturday's gun buyback event that allowed people to turn in weapons in exchange for gift cards, Mayor Eric Garcetti and Police Chief Charlie Beck announced today.

The city also collected 476 handguns, 273 rifles and 170 shotguns for a total of about 950 firearms turned at four locations around the city, including the Valley and Westside.

"The shooting in Isla Vista was a tragic reminder of the consequences of gun violence in our state and our country and redoubles our efforts to do everything we can as quickly as possible, to keep our communities safe and get deadly weapons off our streets," Garcetti said, referring to a rampage near UC Santa Barbara in which 22-year-old Elliot Rodger of Woodland Hills fatally stabbed his three roommates and gunned down three other students.

Garcetti said 27 percent of the weapons were brought in for someone else and 89 percent of people who surrendered weapons said they felt safer after having gotten rid of the gun.

The weapons might have been family heirlooms "passed down from generation to generation" or "used in acts of horrible violence in our communities, but one thing is certain -- the chapter ends here for these weapons," Garcetti said.

"Each gun that gets off the streets represents one less opportunity for tragedy, one less weapon that could be used, that could lead to a loss of life," he said.

The buyback program, which offers up to $200 in grocery cards in exchange for guns, is organized by the mayor's Gang Reduction and Youth Development office.

The city's latest buyback -- the eighth since 2009 -- brings the total number of guns turned into the city with no questioned asked to 12,918, according to city officials.

Beck said "many of the weapons," including some assault weapons, turned in this past weekend are "illegal on their face" and "don't belong in a civilized society."

"Unwanted firearms don't belong in anybody's home," he said. "This is not about the right to own guns. This is about the need to get rid of the guns that serve no useful purpose."

The guns will be sent to a facility in Riverside to be melted down for a second life as rebar in houses and bridges, Beck said.

He said the city does not check for identification or confirm ownership of the guns.

"The value of getting (the guns) out of the house and off the streets far outweighs the possibility of their use in prosecution, because we would never have come into contact with them anyway," he said.

Beck credited the buyback program, along with "smart" police work, for a reduction in gun violence in recent years, saying just under 1,000 people were shot in 2013, compared with more than 1,600 in 2008.

"It wasn't so long ago this was the gun violence capital of the United States. It wasn't so long ago this was the per capita murder capital of this nation," he said. "That is no longer true."

--City News Service

Nadja Adolf July 02, 2014 at 12:04 AM
Do they bother to see if any of the firearms are stolen? Do they return them to their lawful owners if they are stolen? Are they even aware - or do they even care - that some gun buyback programs have received quite a few stolen firearms?


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