Program exchanges record number of guns for gifts

Over 2,000 guns — and an old hand grenade — were taken off the street on Mother's Day eve during a citywide gun for gifts program, according to broadcast reports.

Los Angeles police and the Mayor's Office could not confirm late this afternoon media reports that more than 2,000 guns were turned in at five locations around Los Angeles, but media outlets reported that people kept turning in firearms even after the $200,000 in gift cards had run out.

Under the city's annual Gun Buyback program, which ran from 10 a.m. through 3 p.m., residents were able to surrender their firearms, no questions asked, in exchange for a Ralphs grocery store gift card or a prepaid Visa card.

Those turning in assault weapons received gift cards worth $200, while those who gave up handguns, shotguns and rifles got cards worth $100.

As today's event began, lines of vehicles stretched down the blocks at various locations, and by day's end more than 2,000 guns, rifles and assault weapons had been turned in, breaking the record of 1,700 guns turned in last year, according to CBS2.

In Hollywood, a bomb squad was called when someone turned in a hand grenade left over from the Korean War to a gun collection site at the Farm Fresh Ranch Grocery Store at 5520 Sunset Blvd., but no one was hurt, CBS2 reported.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and police Chief Charlie Beck were at the collection site in Boyle Heights.

"There are too many guns in the city of Los Angeles and that is proven every night,'' Beck said. "Last night it was proven six times. Six individuals were shot -- two murdered.''

"We want to stop the pile-up of body bags, so we've put some particular emphasis on getting guns out of this neighborhood.'' L.A. gang expert Guillermo Cespedes told CBS2.

Opponents of gun control have questioned the value of gun buyback programs, expressing doubt that a significant amount of criminals will turn in their guns.

People turned in firearms in Boyle Heights, South Los Angeles, Wilmington, Hollywood and Mission Hills.

Even after the gift cards ran out, people continued to turn in weapons, CBS2 reported.