It may sound like a sting operation, but the Los Angeles Police Department will not be arresting any participants during the city’s Anonymous Gun Buyback program on Saturday.
From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at six sites in L.A., representatives of the LAPD and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s Office will be offering $100 and $200 Visa and Ralph’s gift cards in exchange for handguns, shotguns, rifles and assault rifles.
Locally, officers from LAPD’s Olympic Division will be at the Korean Evangelical Zion Church, 2149 W. Washington Blvd. Participants are asked to leave the weapons unloaded in the trunk of their vehicle, and officers will retrieve them.
“It’s a lot better for the public if we take those guns off the streets, no questions asked,” division Sgt. Ted Urena said.
Organized by Villaraigosa’s office, the event has accumulated approximately 6,000 firearms in its three-year history. Last year’s event took 2,062 guns off the streets, with 179 being surrendered in Hollywood. Nearly 100 assault rifles were bought back.
In 2010, 2,511 firearms were exchanged for gift cards. At the Hollywood site, 386 weapons were received, including 198 handguns, 112 rifles, 65 shotguns, 11 assault weapons and a grenade launcher attached to a rifle. During the first-even gun buyback program in 2009, 1,696 weapons were exchanged.
“We believe in a person’s 2nd Amendment right to bear arms,” Urena said, “but there may come a time where it may become inconvenient.”
He said some families seek to get rid of the weapons when a young child is welcomed into the home. If properly registered, the guns can be sold, but the buyback program ensures that they are disposed of properly, Urena said, adding that the guns are melted down in a confidential location outside the city.
While some gun owners simply want to get rid of the weapons, other participants may not be so wholesome. Urena said one aspect of the program is taking unsafe weapons from unsafe people in exchange for gift cards.
“There are some people that have perhaps committed a crime with those weapons,” he said, reiterating the anonymity of those who participate.
Urena said there should be enough gift cards to go around, and that the Korean Evangelical Zion Church will be a secure location.
For more information, call (877)LAPD-247.
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