The day after Christmas is prime day people to return unwanted gifts, but in Los Angeles, citizens were also able to return their guns for a little extra holiday cash. Cars swarmed into the parking lots of the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena and Van Nuys temple where police officers collected weapons in exchange for gift cards to Ralph grocery store. Handguns, shotguns and rifles yielded a $100 card, while assault weapons were worth $200.
The Los Angeles Police Department has held the buyback every year since 2009, and as always, those exchanging guns remain anonymous. Traditionally the buyback is held on Mother’s day, but in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, city officials chose to hold the event in December.
“All of us are still mourning the tragedy at Newtown, Conn.,” said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “So many young innocent children were mass-murdered in the way that they were, and now the assassination of two firefighters … just breaks the heart of so many of us, particularly in this holiday season.”
Reuters reported that the Los Angeles gun buyback collected 1,336 firearms, 477 handguns and 49 assault weapons, according to mayor spokesman Vicki Curry. The average number of guns collected at each location was greater than that of the buyback held on Mother’s Day of this year, which had six different locations compared to Wednesday’s two.
“There are a number of things we can do. This is just one of them,” Villaraigosa told CNN. “We’ve got to also address the culture of violence that we’ve got in this country.”
Similar events have been organized in other major cities, including Boston, Detroit and San Diego. The Los Angeles Police Department has collected almost 8,000 guns since their buyback program began. Villaraigosa commended the people of his city, saying “they’re doing this because they want to make a difference,” according to the Daily News.