Thousands of Guns Melted Down in Rancho Cucamonga Will Help Create 6-Story Angel Statues

More than 3,500 guns, many of which obtained during criminal investigations and probation seizures, are being melted down in Rancho Cucamonga on Thursday to be used for infrastructure such as buildings and bridges as well as toward a sculpture project promoting peace.

For this year's 25th annual gun destruction project, some of the metal will be used to cast massive angel statues as part of the Peace Angels Project, an ongoing sculpture series that melts down street weapons to turn them into "powerful images of kindness, compassion, and unity," as its website states.

The melted down weapons will be mixed with other scrap metal to get it all to the right consistency so it can be casted and used for other purposes, as a representative for Gerdau Steel Mill told KTLA. The mill has been working with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to melt down a total of 170,000 firearms over the last 25 years.

Some of the weapons — including handguns, rifles and automatic weapons — were collected from mass community donations or were seized during criminal cases and probation-related incidents, authorities said.

In addition to the Peace Angels Project, some of the resulting metal will be used to produce rebar, or steel reinforcing bar, that will be used in the future construction or repair of freeways and bridges across Arizona, California, and Nevada, sheriff's officials said. Some of that metal has already gone toward the construction of such landmark buildings as the Wilshire Grand Center in downtown L.A. and Apple's corporate campus in Cupertino.

"Each illegal weapon removed from our streets significantly influences the community and citizens we serve," Chief Eric Parra of the Sheriff's Department said in a news release.

Lin Evola, a contemporary artist who started the Peace Angels Project, said she launched it at a time when gun violence was wreaking havoc on Los Angeles County. Through its use of melted weapons as material for art, according to the project's website, it "permanently transforms these weapons of mass destruction into life-affirming symbols of peace."