Some of these turn in sites are only a few miles from me. Police budgets are stretched and so are court case budgets. In an economy that is totally stretched and 30,000 statewide teachers with layoff notices, where is the funding coming from? In the first place, not a single gun turned in takes one bullet away from who we have to worry about. These are regular normal people who guns are not the slightest threat to everyone. Half of them were probably known to have not worked or just been worn out, and most all of them would not be a weapon of choice for a crime anyway.
This was just throwing good money down the drain, in terms of the general good removing these weapons do. It does nothing to avert crimes.
L.A. gun buyback too successful
By Kevin Modesti, Staff Writer
Updated: 05/10/2009 08:58:46 AM PDT
Officer Dennis Cunningham takes rifles out of the trunk of a woman's car. A citywide Gun Buyback Program was held at 19 locations around the city on Saturday, May 9, 2009. At Hope Chapel of the Valley, 7930 Mason Ave., LAPD officers gave gift cards valued at between $100 and $200 to people who turned in their firearms. The program was called for by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and was held in conjunction with the LAPD, the City Attorney's Office, L.A. County Sheriff's Department and community and faith-based organizations. The response at Hope Chapel was underestimated, and the LAPD ran out of gift cards at around 11 a.m. (John McCoy/Staff Photographer)
A Los Angeles citywide gun buyback program was called an unexpected success after nearly 1,700 firearms were collected Saturday from owners who'd been promised anonymity, "no questions asked" and - very important - $100 gift cards.
In a way, the effort proved too successful: So many people showed up at collection sites with handguns and rifles in their trunks that organizers ran out of the Ralphs and Visa gift cards in the first two hours.
Some people went ahead and turned in weapons without the financial incentive. But an untold number of drivers left in a huff.
City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel emphasized the good news, noting the removal from L.A. homes of hundreds of guns that "will be melted down and no longer can be used in a crime."
The haul was reported to include more than 100 assault weapons, which are illegal for general possession in California.
"The lesson here today is we need to do this more often," Greuel said beside a table full of guns in the parking lot of Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch, one of seven buyback sites in the San Fernando Valley and 19 citywide.
A second anonymous buyback could be held as early as the weekend of Father's Day (June 21), said Rev. Jeff Carr, the mayor's director of gang reduction and youth development.
Carr said the supply of about 1,300 gift cards was exhausted not because of poor planning but because that's how many could be purchased with the $130,200
raised for the program in contributions from Ralphs ($50,000) and other sponsors.
City Councilman Jack Weiss said he hopes Saturday's success will inspire more contributions next time.
People were to have received $100 for each handgun, shotgun and rifle, and $200 for each assault weapon.
At Hope Chapel of the Valley in Winnetka, a driver who didn't want to be identified in print said he saw a chance to legally sell three rifles, two handguns and one shotgun and make a little money during the recession.
But Sandy Oster, 77, of Woodland Hills, who avoided the line of cars and walked in with a Beretta handgun in an Italian restaurant takeout bag, said he didn't think people were there for the gift cards.
"It shows a lot of people really care," said Oster, who said the Beretta, a gift from his father-in-law, had been stashed for years in an unused golf bag.
Oster had left by the time LAPD officers began telling people that the cards were all gone. Within minutes, about three-quarters of the nearly 40 drivers in line had left. Others stayed and turned in guns without compensation.
Having waited 45 minutes, Steve and Donna Stone of Winnetka stayed to hand over a sawed-off shotgun he said he had received in exchange for some cabinet work.
"It's a scam," said Donna, blaming the shortage of gift cards on Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's Office.
"It's a good program, if it worked," Steve added.
Gun owners were instructed to bring firearms, unloaded, in their trunks, and to remain in their vehicles while police officers removed and cataloged the weapons.
"It's like Jack in the Box, the drive-through," said LAPD Lt. Stephen Carmona, who ran the Canoga Park collection site.
Carmona reported no trouble.
"It's a pretty good-looking group of citizens," he said. "We didn't expect any gangsters."
Detective Bill Flannery, busy identifying the guns collected in Canoga Park, said he was surprised by "the number of guns that little old ladies are bringing in."
Gun buybacks have been criticized as feel-good publicity stunts that barely dent the U.S. gun supply and take weapons only from the law-abiding.
But L.A. police and city officials say every gun turned in Saturday and destroyed is one that no longer can be stolen and used in a crime or contribute to an accident.
The LAPD said it will destroy all of the guns collected Saturday, even ones as potentially valuable as a World War I-era chrome-plated Luger that showed up in Northridge.
Carr said the 10 a.m.-3 p.m. program netted 1,698 firearms citywide, 792 of those at the San Fernando Valley sites - "beyond our wildest imagination."
Officials pointed out that anyone who wants to get rid of a gun can do so anytime at a police station. They say leave the gun in your car, walk into the station and tell an officer you have a firearm to turn in. No questions asked, they say, but also not even the promise of a gift card.