LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Venture into the LAPD’s gun locker and you’ll find hand guns, assault rifles and machine guns.
Chief Charlie Beck gave KCAL9 News a rare look inside the gun locker and showed the bizarre weapons officers have seized on the streets of L.A.
Behind a steel door, under a heavy lock and key, are where thousands of weapons are tagged, categorized and ready for trial.
“Believe it or not, there are about 13,000 guns surrounding us right now,” an officer said.
An undercover officer showed KCAL9 a military version of the AR-15, an assault rifle which is illegal in the state of California.
He showed a mini 14 which had been converted by common kits into an assault weapon.
“Occasionally, we’ll get a long gun crime, but it isn’t even close to the level of handguns,” Beck said.
Typically, the firearms used in crimes are smaller handguns, like thrills or subcompacts. They’re usually sold for $100-150 on the street.
Officers said those handguns are then passed from hand to hand, committing crimes, until officers arrest people and seize the firearm.
But how much of the violence you see on the street involves illegal guns and weapons?
“About 75 percent of our homicides involve firearms — every one of them being used illegally at the time of the murder and many being possessed illegally,” Beck said.
Officers always have to be careful, when doing a traffic stop or a pedestrian stop, of whether a person is armed.
Four years ago, the city of L.A.’s Gang Reduction Youth Development Department teamed up with the LAPD to start the gun buyback program. It was an effort to get as many illegal guns off the streets as they could. Police consider the program a huge success and credit it with helping bring down L.A.’s crime rate.
“Last year we had less than 300 homicides – that’s the best since 1967,” Beck said. “We’ve been able to reduce gun violence every ear this program has been in place. We can do better thought. One of the things we can do is get guns off the streets. Turning in your gun, on that you have no use for legally, may keep it out of somebody else’s hands, and that’s what this is all about.”
The LAPD has confiscated 1,000 guns off the streets this year. They hope to collect 3,000 more in the upcoming gun buyback program.
The program takes place Saturday at six locations across Los Angeles.
Residents can turn in their guns, no questions asked, in exchange for gift cards. The weapon must not be loaded. Firearms will be checked for lost and stolen status, and organizers say they will return those weapons to their rightful owners. The rest of the surrendered guns will be destroyed by the LAPD.
You can turn in your gun to the following locations:
Central Los Angeles – Northeast Area
LAFD Fire Academy
1700 Stadium Way
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Mid City – Olympic Area
Korean Evangelical Zion Church
2149 West Washington Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90018
Valley – Mission Area
Facey Medical Center Parking Lot
11165 Sepulveda Blvd.
Mission Hills, CA 91345
South Los Angeles -77th Area
Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church
7900 South Western Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90047
South Los Angeles – Harbor Area
Park & Ride Parking Lot
1300 West Pacific Coast Highway
Wilmington, CA 90744
South Los Angeles – Southeast Area
Grant African Methodist Episcopal Church
10435 South Central Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90002