An annual gun-buyback event held Wednesday in Los Angeles netted more than 2,000 guns and firearms, the city reports, including 75 assault weapons and one rocket launcher.
City law enforcement initated Los Angeles’ buyback program in 2009 and says it has taken nearly 10,000 off the street as a result. The gun buyback is typically held in May each year, but officials moved up a day in response to the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
“I think everybody was so traumatized,” says L.A. mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “People said, ‘I don’t wait on the Congress, I’m tired of the endless debates about responsible gun control legislation, I want to do my part.”
Gun owners lined up for blocks to return automatic weapons and handguns at the L.A. Sports Arena to exchange guns for gift cards. The buyback program allows residents to anonymously trade in a handgun, shotgun or rifle for a $100 gift card to local grocer, Ralph’s. Those who brought assault weapons (as classified by the state of California) received a $200 gift card.
Said one veteran returning a shotgun, “I’m not anti-gun, I’m from a Texas family… I’m not going to be gunless so to speak.” But, he added, “There’s no purpose for automatic gunfire in our cities. That is strictly a war weapon.”
Despite the mayor’s focus on gun control, a number of participants were mostly interested in the cash incentive.
As one man told Jeremy Hobson, “It’s just about expendiency… not about gun control. This has not removed all the guns from my household.” He added, “Truthfully, I don’t think it’s an effective way to get guns off the street.”
But Mayor Villaraigosa countered, “There’s a reason the police department supports this effort. All these cops that are here are here because they want to get these guns off the streets.” He asked, “What do we need assault weapons on the streets of L.A. for? The answer is: we don’t need them and we’ve got to do something about it.”
Gun buyback programs in the United States
A number of gun buyback programs have popped up in the U.S. just in the last two weeks. Here’s a sampling of who sponsored what, how many guns were returned, and how much was made: