City pays $200K for guns in buyback program

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES This is just the second year of the program, but it has already become the most successful gun buyback program in any city in the entire country. Last year, people brought in about 1,700 fire arms, and this year, that number increased by almost 50 percent. As a result, there are a number of dangerous weapons that are off the streets.

It looked like a yard sale for violent criminals with more than 2,500 fired arms on display for L.A.'s gun buyback program.

"We got everything. We got guns that are not worth very much, and we got guns that are worth a lot of money," said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. "Even the cheapest gun that's functioning can kill somebody."

The guns were collected hassle free on Saturday at five different locations. In return, most individuals received a $100 gift card or a prepaid VISA card, and assault weapons were worth $200. The city wound up paying out nearly $200,000.

"This is an issue for all of us who have to address crime on our streets. That's very, very important, and we think this is, without question, an important contribution to that effort," said L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

"Why was this more successful than last year? Because we kept our promise from last year. This is an anonymous, guilt-free turning in of weapons. These assault weapons, the vast majority of them, are illegal to own on their face. The sawed-off shotguns are illegal to own. Nobody is going to turn those in if I ask their identity," said Beck. "I want these guns off the streets and so does the mayor."

More than 1,200 handguns, which are the weapons of choice in L.A., are off the streets, as are 747 rifles, 463 shotguns and 85 assault weapons. All will be melted down within a month.

Beck also pointed out that there are 300 million guns throughout the United States, overshadowing the 2,500 weapons retrieved through this program. However, every weapon counts because statistics show that the crime rate in Los Angeles is down.

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