'Gifts for Guns' program: Receive gift cards in exchange for weapons


Shotguns, pistols and even assault rifles, some rusted, some brand-new. L.A. County Sheriff's deputies stacked them into baskets Monday as they came in. The weapons will be cataloged, then destroyed. Their former owners were given gift cards in exchange for the firearms.

It's all part of an effort to get as many weapons off local streets as possible. A similar program that was held last month netted more than 2,000 firearms.

The event took place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Ralphs supermarket parking lot at 280 E. Compton Blvd. in Compton.

"I have children, so definitely that's one thing I don't want to have the presence of in the household, is guns," said Lynwood resident William Scales, who recently inherited two of his late grandfather's guns. He was eager to get them out of the house. "I feel that giving back shows an example to my neighborhood, to my children that there's other ways to handle situations than to pick up a gun."

Deputies collected the firearms with no questions asked. The buyback program is in its seventh year. But Monday's event took place as lawmakers in Washington debate tougher restrictions on assault weapons in the wake of several mass shootings.

"There's a sense of 'I'll contribute to the safety of others by putting my weapon that I bought years and years and years ago in the hands of law enforcement,'" said L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca.

People who surrendered their guns were given a $200 gift card for an assault weapon; $100 gift card for a handgun, rifle or shotgun; and a $50 gift card for a non-operational gun. The Sheriff's Department gave out $38,500 worth of gift cards redeemable at Target and Ralphs stores.

Twenty-two assault rifles, 193 rifles, five shotguns, 144 handguns, and 22 non-operational guns were collected for a total of 386 guns Monday.

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