Thousands of illegal guns melted for use in California's infrastructure

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (KABC) -- Nearly 5,000 illegal confiscated guns were melted at an annual event in Rancho Cucamonga, ready to be turned into material that will help transform California's infrastructure.

"These weapons, which were used to harm, take away life and effectively rescind happiness from families and communities, will be turned into something more progressive and beneficial for all of our communities," said Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell.

The sheriff's department was one of several agencies taking part in the 24th annual Gun Melt at the Gerdau Steel Mill, where 4,971 guns were melted on Wednesday.

All of the illegal and confiscated weapons will be made into steel rebar to help build new bridges, freeways and buildings across the state of California, which has the second highest demand in the nation for the kind of rebar the guns will turn into.

"So far this year, we've melted 56,000 pounds of weapons, which equates to approximately 14,400 guns. And today, we're going to add to that total," said Chris Ervin, Gerdau's vice president of west coast operations.

To melt the guns, workers have to put them into a furnace with about 150 tons of scrap metal. Then, it's all heated to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

"It's always a good day when we take illegal weapons off the street and we create a safer community," Inglewood police Chief Mark Fronterotta.

The melted guns were collected by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, the Los Angeles Superior Court as well as police departments in Arcadia, Bell, Bell Gardens, Downey, Hermosa Beach, Inglewood, La Verne, Long Beach, Santa Monica, Sierra Madre, South Pasadena and Whittier.

The melt is part of a partnership between Gerdau and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

McDonnell said these guns were used to harm.

"Mostly crime guns, guns that have been seized off the streets, taken from suspects that were used in murders, robberies, rapes, you name it," McDonnell said.

With this year's gun melt, the L.A. County Sheriff's Department and Gerdau will have destroyed more than 164,000 firearms over the past 24 years.
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