Nearly 10,000 Firearms Removed from the Streets Since LA Began the Program in 2009; Shooting During New Years Eve Celebrations Discouraged
LOS ANGELES -- Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck joined with Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca to announce today that 2,037 firearms were collected during the December 26 Gun Buyback, bringing the total number of firearms collected since 2009 to 9,979.
In total, 901 handguns, 698 rifles, 363 shotguns, and 75 assault weapons were collected from the two Gun Buyback locations in South Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.
An initiative of the Mayor's Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GRYD) Office, the Gun Buyback rewards the voluntary surrender of firearms while engaging the community towards a common goal of reducing gun violence.
"For too long, dangerous weapons have contributed to countless unnecessary tragedies and deaths," Mayor Villaraigosa said. "This Citywide Gun Buyback effort takes dangerous weapons off our streets and rewards Angelenos who voluntarily surrender their firearms, making our communities safer for us all."
The Gun Buyback includes a grassroots outreach campaign that works with gang prevention and intervention agencies, community and religious leaders, and the Los Angeles Police Department. The comprehensive outreach effort serves not only to encourage participation in neighborhoods suffering from high levels of gun violence, but also to educate communities about the risks and dangers of gun and gang violence.
“We are grateful for the continued support of this program," LAPD Chief Beck said. "The fact that we continue to get participation from people all over Los Angeles is encouraging. Although the scope of today’s success cannot be measured, the guns displayed here will never be used to harm innocent people. It is also a solemn remembrance of those victims' lives lost this year due to gun violence."
In exchange for surrendering weapons, participants received a Ralphs pre-paid gift card. The LAPD Gun Unit determined the type and classification of the firearm surrendered. The cost per firearm is dependent on its type, up to $200 for assault weapons as specified by the State of California and up to $100 for handguns, rifles, and shotguns.
This expedited Gun Buyback program was held in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn. and received $150,000 in donations from Ralph’s, The California Wellness Foundation and private donors. KCAL/KCBS also acted as a sponsor for this effort.
Mayor Villaraigosa and the law enforcement officers present also took the opportunity to discourage individuals from firing their guns in the air during New Year’s Eve celebrations, noting that stray bullets pose a significant and dangerous threat to the many civilians who will be celebrating in the streets and other public areas during this festive occasion.
In an effort to educate and warn the public of the problem, Mayor Villaraigosa, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD), and the District Attorney’s Office have embarked upon an awareness campaign, The Gunfire Reduction Campaign. This campaign is designed to help reduce incidents of indiscriminate gunfire that, while on the decline, has continued to be a deadly tradition in our County and City.
To make a significant impact on this problem, thousands of “Don’t Shoot” flyers and posters have been printed and distributed to the community to inform the public of the dangers and dire consequences of this irresponsible act. In addition, a technological tool called the Shotspotter is assisting Deputies in the field with locating people who fire guns. This piece of advanced technology is deployed in the Century Station area and can pinpoint gunfire within a few feet of where the shots were fired.
“This is beneficial because it can tell the Deputies where the suspect is located and the data allows them to develop violence suppression strategies and tactical plans. This has been extremely successful in our crime fighting initiative and one of many tools that help decrease crime in the County” said Sheriff Baca.