LOS ANGELES (KTLA) — Authorities collected 2,037 firearms, including 75 assault weapons, and two anti-tank rocket launchers during L.A.’s annual gun buyback event.
“Those are weapons of war, weapons of death,” LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said of the rockets and assault weapons.
“These are made to put high-velocity, extremely deadly, long-range rounds downrange as quickly as possible, and they have no place in our great city,” he added.
The buyback, which was held on Wednesday in South L.A. and Van Nuys, was pushed up several months in the wake of the school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.
People were invited to surrender firearms anonymously — with no questions asked — in exchange for Ralph’s gift cards.
At a news conference on Thursday, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa praised the success of the program, which collected 400 more weapons than last year.
He said the response to the drive was so great that the city ran out of the gift cards and had to rely on a private donation through the city controller to bolster the pot.
Villaraigosa said the LAPD collected 901 handguns, 698 rifles and 363 shotguns. The weapons will be melted down.
“Perhaps the most honest testament to the success of yesterday’s program can be seen in the 166 weapons that were surrendered for nothing,” Villaraigosa said.
He added that nearly three-quarters of those turning in the weapons said in an informal survey that they felt safer with the weapons off the street.
City officials also used Thursday’s news conference to warn New Year’s Eve revelers against firing weapons into the air.
Authorities said that anyone who fires a gun into the air on New Year’s Eve faces jail time and a fine of up to $10,000, even if no one is hurt.