Over the weekend, the Los Angeles Police Department held a gun buy back and paid people $100-$200 in gift cards as an incentive to participate. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called the buy back a way to fight crime although criminals do not participate in buy back programs. From Reuters:
Police officers handed out $200 grocery store gift cards to people who turned in an automatic weapon, and $100 gift cards to those who provided a handgun, rifle or shotgun.
Los Angeles has held an annual gun buyback since 2009, and similar events have been organized in years past in several other cities, including Detroit and Boston. Police in San Diego had a buyback earlier this month.
Some experts say the buybacks have little effect in reducing gun violence, but Villaraigosa touted the buyback program as one step that can be taken in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14 that claimed the lives of 20 children and six adult staff members.
At last count, the Los Angeles gun buyback had collected 1,366 firearms, including 477 handguns and 49 assault weapons, said Vicki Curry, a spokeswoman for the mayor.
First off, Reuters mischaracterized the kind of weapons being bought back. Automatic weapons were not turned in, but semi-automatic weapons were. Not to mention, law abiding citizens owning firearms isn’t the same thing as “having guns on the street.” Second, LA taxpayers forked over more than $140,000 for this program in gift cards despite being on the verge of bankruptcy.