LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Hundreds of people took part in LA’s latest gun buyback program Saturday – but they didn’t leave empty handed.
CBS2’s Joy Benedict reported from the West LA location.
Many people pulled up in the parking lot armed – they had sawed-off shotguns, rifles and hand guns and they handed them over one by one.
“I wanted them out of my house,” explained Lynne Emile.
Her husband died three years ago and she dusted around two hand guns ever since – a burden she chose to get rid of.
“The nature of the guns represented something that was dark to me,” Emile said.
So Emile joined hundreds of others in the gun buyback program. It’s anonymous, no questions asked and no strings attached.
“This has been an integral part of our strategy to cut gun and gang violence in the city,” said LA Mayor Eric Garcetti.
The mayor stopped by the West LA location to see how it was going.
And while many of the guns that were turned in were not illegal, he said the point of the program is not just to stop crime.
“I remember a family that said ‘My father has a big gun collection and now he has Alzheimer’s. We just don’t want them in the house.’ Taking them out of the house isn’t just about crime, but also about accidents and suicides and tragedies.”
More than 200 weapons were dropped off in the West LA location in just the first two hours of the event.
It’s a small portion of the more than 13,000 guns taken off the streets since the gun buyback program began six years ago.
“I dropped off two different rifles,” said Jeremiah Rees of Glendora.
The steady stream of cars, reported Benedict, represented the people who not only wanted to be gun-free but also people looking for the gift cards credited to the generosity of Ralphs.
Reese told Benedict that the two rifles he turned in were both worth less than the two $100 gift cards he received.
Emile got two gift cards for turning in her guns, as well. And she got more than just peace of mind.
“I feel lightened, I feel relieved,” she said.