Deputies exchange "Gifts for Guns"

COMPTON In an effort to curb violent crime in the city -- which has the highest homicide rate in the county -- authorities gave $100 gift cards to people who turned in firearms and $200 gift cards for assault weapons.

"A lot of people in the community have guns that they don't use for target practice or whatever and this just gives them an opportunity to turn those in, get them out of the house, " said Capt. William Ryan of the Compton Sheriff's Station.

The gift cards can be redeemed at Best Buy, Target, Home Depot and Ralphs supermarkets, said Sgt. Byron Woods.

"I brought a sawed-off .22," Horace Denton told the station. "I didn't have any use for it. It was my son's gun way back in the day, so I decided I'd clean things out."

The event was held at a Ralphs supermarket at 280 E. Compton Blvd., where the weapons were collected by sheriff's personnel and volunteers at a booth set up in the parking lot.

"Well, I heard about the program and I thought, well, it's a good way to get rid of the guns, and if I can get some money for it why not?" Don Lewis said.

People turning in guns are not asked to identify themselves or say where the weapons came from, Woods said.

"We just had this around the house for a while, and we thought `Well it's better to get rid of it before somebody breaks in or something and it gets into the wrong hands,"' Luella Steele told ABC7. "We can use the money at Christmas time,"

People have turned in about 1,500 guns over the last three years, ABC7 reported. Another "Gifts for Guns" event will be held at the grocery store Sunday and next weekend.

"We're trying to rid our city of guns being shot, people being killed," said City Councilwoman Barbara Calhoun.

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