Thousands take part in L.A. gun buy-back program

13:52, May 09, 2010      

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Thousands of Los Angeles residents have waited for hours at various sites around the city on Saturday clamoring for cash in exchange for anonymously offering their unwanted firearms to police, local media reported.

Lines of cars with guns stashed in backseats or trunks stretched for miles at sites where city police officers asked no questions about where the guns were coming from or why they were being turned in as they collected an assortment of weapons ranging from rusted vintage revolvers and tiny derringers to sawed-off shotguns, AK-47s and black-matte machine guns, the Los Angeles Daily News reported on its website.

"By thinking strategically and by offering the right incentives, we can create a safer Los Angeles, neighborhood by neighborhood,"Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said in a statement."I want to urge all Angelenos to join us to make this Gun Buyback even more successful than the last,".

"The less guns we have in Los Angeles, the less homicides we'll have," said Police Chief Charlie Beck at a news conference in Boyle Heights, where six people were shot, two fatally, overnight.

Several people said that the guns were gifts or hand-me-downs that they had no use for. Others had been avid hunters or trappers, but no longer had time for their hobbies.

The Gun Buyback Program gives individuals a comfortable and accessible site where they can drop off their weapons on neutral ground -- no questions asked. In exchange, they receive a Ralph's gift card or a VISA pre-paid card of up to 200 U.S.dollars for assault weapons, and up to 100 U.S.dollars for handguns,according to Villaraigosa.

The exchange was part of the city's 2nd annual Gun Buy Back Initiative, an effort aimed at getting guns off the street in hopes of cutting down on homicides and violent crime.

About 1,700 guns were gathered at last year's buy-back. Officials hoped to hit 2,500 this year, although the program only had a budget of 200,000 U.S.dollars.

Gift cards began running out around noon at the Mission Hills location, but some people still chose to drop off their guns. Others, despite waiting in line for more than two hours, left when they heard that the cash was gone, according to the report.

Officers checked the guns to see if they were unloaded, took down intact serial numbers to find out if stolen guns could be reunited with proper owners, although because the program promised anonymity they did not track who turned in which guns, the newspaper said.

The guns that weren't stolen will then be melted down.

Source: Xinhua


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