Hundreds of drivers line up in the parking lot of United African American Ministerial Action Council to surrender their guns in exchange for grocery gift cards in San Diego as part of the San Diego Sheriff's Dept Guns for Gift Cards program. Dec. 21, 2012 Courtesy- San Diego Sheriff's Department
Hundreds of people in San Diego County have turned in their firearms to authorities as part of the annual Guns for Gift Cards program.
Long lines formed in the parking lot of United African American Ministerial Action Council as drivers pulled up to surrender their rifles and shotguns. In exchange, they received grocery gift cards of up to $100 — no questions asked.
Melissa Aquino with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department says last week’s school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut may have motivated the large turnout.
“A lot of the drivers did say that they don’t even care about the gift card. They just want to make sure that the guns don’t end up in the wrong hands. And they want to make sure that they are not used for a crime or in any acts of violence," Aquino says. "Other drivers even mentioned that they have relatives who have been affected or were victims of the Colorado movie theater shooting and they want to make sure that that never happens again.”
Since San Diego County began its program four years ago in San Diego County, she says, its sheriff’s department has collected nearly1,000 weapons and ammunition.
The 357 guns collected at Friday’s event will be destroyed.
“They will either be melted for scrap metal or shredded,” Aquino explains. “If there are any weapons that might be related to a crime, of course, we will notify which ever agency might have an interest in the case so the crime can still be solved. “
The Los Angeles Police Department will host its annual gun buyback event next Wednesday - the day after Christmas.