LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Nearly 500 weapons were collected at two recent gun buyback events, down sharply from last year but still a significant number of guns taken off the streets, Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck said today.
A total of 478 guns were collected, including 35 assault weapons, 174 handguns, 103 shotguns and 166 rifles.
``We want to make Los Angeles a place that's safe to learn, to live, to work. And the conversation on gun violence, while it seems to have stalled in our nation's capital, continues to move here in Los Angeles, and continues to move here in this state,'' Garcetti said as he stood in front of a pile of weapons displayed at a news conference at LAPD headquarters. ``We do more than talk, we take actions.''
The city collected 788 weapons at its buyback events last year, and Garcetti said the drop could be attributed to one of the events being moved from Exposition Park to a fire department training center near Dodger Stadium over concerns about construction near the new Banc of California Stadium. He also said the lower turnout could be based on the past success of the gun buyback events, with many residents having already rid themselves of unwanted weapons.
But even if the participation was down this year, Garcetti and Beck both said buybacks are an important aspect of the city's approach to fighting crime and reducing gun violence. Since the city began organizing annual gun buybacks in 2009, 16,483 weapons have been collected.
``In that time, since the gun buybacks began, we have reduced gun violence in the city on pace to be at one-half,'' Beck said. He added that in 2008, there were around 1,600 people shot in the city, but that the city is on pace to log 700 to 800 this year.
The gun buyback allows residents to surrender weapons anonymously, with no questions asked, in exchange for gift cards valued at $100 for handguns, shotguns and rifles and $200 for assault weapons as classified in the state of California. Both events were held on Saturday -- one at the Frank Hotchkin Training Center near Dodger Stadium and the other at the Facey Medical Group in Mission Hills.
Garcetti set a goal last year to get at least 20,000 guns off the city's streets in five years. His office said the city is ahead of the pace to meet that goal, as it collected 7,300 last year alone, the most since 2013.
The event was organized in conjunction with Gun by Gun, a nonprofit group that uses private donations to help fund gun buyback programs, and the mayor's Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development.