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L.A. Gun Buyback Program Takes In Over 2,000 Firearms

Gracie Zheng |
December 27, 2012 | 1:31 p.m. PST

Senior Staff Reporter

Mayor Villaraigosa announced Thursday morning that 2,037 guns were collected from two gun buyback

locations in South Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley during a one-day program.  

“Yesterday I got more than a few questions about whether these program work, I said, ‘Well the LAPD is behind it. They wouldn’t be behind it if they didn’t think it would work,’” said Mayor Villaraigosa. 

The firearms returned include 901 handguns, 698 rifles, 363 shotguns and 75 assault weapons, all of which will be destroyed. The gun buyback program, normally held on Mothers’ Day weekends in May, was moved up to Dec. 26 in the wake of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. 


Since 2009 when the program started, Angelenos turned in a total number of 9,979 guns to the LAPD. 

Individuals received $200 Ralphs gift cards for assault weapons and $100 gift cards for handguns, rifles, and shotguns. Before the program ended at 4pm Wednesday, it ran out of money. 166 Angelenos turned in their firearms in exchange for nothing. 

“It says a lot,” said LAPD Chief Beck. “Unwanted guns are a huge danger for all of us. This obviously isn’t all the guns in the County and the city of Los Angeles, but it’s a significant step.”

Mayor Villaraigosa, Chief Beck and L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca encouraged Angelenos to refrain from shooting firearms during New Year’s Eve. 

“Please, spend New Year’s Eve with your families; spend New Year’s Eve with your friends. Don’t spend it in my jail or Lee Baca’s jail,” said Chief Beck. “Firing a gun in the air is not only dangerous, its’ not only a crime, it’s socially unacceptable.”

People shooting guns into the air can get a fine as much as $10,000, be incarcerated for three years, and lose the right to own a firearm for the rest of life. 

“My message to the public is it’s not worth it,” said Jackie Lacey, LA County district attorney, “New Year’s Eve is a time for celebration. There are many ways to celebrate it that are fun and lawful. Charging a firearm into the air recklessly isn’t one of them.” 

The two locations for the gun buyback program were at L.A. Sports Arena and Van Nuys Masonic Temple.

On Wednesday morning, people began to drive in to L.A. Sports Arena to drop off unloaded firearms in their trunk. At one time the line extended down Figueroa for several blocks from Martin Luther King Blvd. northward to 38th St. 

“This program gives the people of LA an opportunity to voluntarily surrender the firearms. More importantly it helps us work toward a common goal of reducing gun violence,” said Mayor Villaraigosa. About 40 percent of the guns are purchased through private sales, he added. “We not only need a federal assault weapon ban, we need a universal background check.” 

Los Angeles had a 33 percent decrease in gun violence, 40 percent reduction in violent crimes, 41 percent drop in homicide since then, said Villaraigosa.

Read more of Neon Tommy's coverage of gun control here.

Reach Senior Staff Reporter Gracie Zheng here.



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