Over this past weekend, Los Angeles city officials
collected 817 firearms during a weekend gun buyback program that allowed people
to turn in weapons -- no questions asked -- in exchange for Ralphs gift cards.
Should Riverside County -- or maybe your local city -- consider following the trend?
According to the City of Los Angeles mayor's office, 387 handguns were among the weapons turned in during Saturday's event, along with 131 shotguns and 31 assault weapons.
"The buybacks are about taking guns off the street where they could fall into the hands of criminals or our children," Mayor Eric Garcetti said.
Saturday's effort featured drop-off locations in Van Nuys, Wilmington and Elysian Park. People who surrendered assault weapons were given a $200 grocery card, while other weapons were exchanged for $100 cards.
Since the gun buyback program began in 2009, nearly 12,000 guns have been turned in, according to the mayor's office.
The effectiveness of gun buyback programs has been questioned by some critics. A 2004 report by the National Academy of Sciences titled "Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review" found that "the theory underlying gun buyback programs is badly flawed," noting that guns surrendered during such efforts are least likely to be used in criminal activities.
Officials with the mayor's office, however, insisted the program was beneficial, noting that an informal survey of people who took part in Saturday's effort found that nearly 60 percent of participants now have gun- free homes, and more than 90 percent felt their neighborhoods were now safer.
Los Angeles is not alone. In June, San Bernardino County conducted its first countywide gun-buyback program. People were able to turn in weapons in exchange for Stater Bros. gift cards.
In all, 1,424 weapons, including 23 assault weapons, were turned in during the San Bernardino County event and San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said the guns were melted down and used to make reinforcing bars used in construction, according to a report from The Press-Enterprise.
Still, other local jurisdictions seem to be jumping onto the gun buyback idea. In August, the Anaheim Police Department in Orange County conducted a program that netted 100 weapons.
The City of Coachella has conducted a program in
the past, but few Riverside County cities have followed. A spokesman for the Riverside County Sheriff's Department said the Coachella event was the only one in the county.
Should Riverside County consider a gun buyback program? What are the benefits and drawbacks of such programs? Share your thoughts below. --City News Service contributed to this report.