Rina Palta (KPCC)
Deputies with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department log rifles during a "gifts for guns" program in Compton January 21, 2013.
There was an extra drive-through in the parking lot of Compton's Towne Center shopping mall on Monday: A gun buyback program.
Car after car pulled into the lot, with rifles, handguns, shotguns, and in some cases assault rifles packed into their trunks. And car by car, deputies with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department sorted through the firearms, made sure they were disabled, and sent drivers on their way with gift certificates for Target and Ralph's.
An assault rifle netted a $200 giftcard; a regular rifle, shotgun, or handgun $100; and an inoperable gun $50. Deputies were happy to take ammunition rounds as well, but those didn't earn giftcards.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, whose district includes Compton and who helped get $75,000 for the event, said in the first hour the buyback averaged about two guns a minute.
"People are getting the message," Ridley-Thomas said. And that message, on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, was one of non-violence, he said.
And on the day of President Barak Obama's second inauguration, the message from Compton's leaders was one for support of Obama's recent pledge to extend gun control.
"Just think, if 100,000 Americans had died of an illness last year, people would be demanding government do something about it," Ridley-Thomas said. "Instead, 100,000 people were shot last year, some of them died, and we're having a debate."
L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca, who along with Ridley-Thomas and Compton Mayor Eric J. Perrodin attended the Compton "Gifts for Guns" program, also invoked King's legacy.
"He's the prince of non-violence," Baca said. "And I can't think of a more meaningful way to celebrate his legacy than to surrender weapons."