Villaraigosa: 2,500 guns recovered from buyback program

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Corey Moore/KPCC

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa stand over the more than 2,500 guns recovered through the city's gun buyback program.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa says the city’s weekend gun buyback program has removed 2,500 firearms from the streets. The mayor called the roundup the most successful ever — it collected about 800 more guns this year than last. The payoff — grocery store gift cards — may have boosted the response.

The mayor repeated “wow” as he walked through piles of unloaded handguns, shotguns, rifles and semiautomatic weapons laid out on a blue tarp at police headquarters on Monday. Then he glanced over at a grenade launcher displayed on a nearby table.

The weapons were from thousands of people who anonymously handed them over during the weekend. Mayor Villaraigosa says most of the firearms collected were cheap handguns — the street weapon of choice in L.A.

“Getting handguns out of the streets was particularly important,” the mayor said. “But there was 1,216 handguns that were turned in, 747 rifles, 463 shotguns, 85 assault weapons — all off our street and all out of our communities.”

In exchange for turning in their guns, many people received gift cards worth $100 or more from Ralphs supermarket. The mayor says he’s proud that some participants willingly surrendered in their firearms without any compensation.

LAPD officials say people may still hand in weapons by leaving unloaded firearms in a locked container or a vehicle trunk at any city police station — no questions asked.

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