Police Collect More Than 250 Guns In 4th Annual Guns-For-Gifts Exchange
Monday, December 19, 2011
Aired 12/19/11 on KPBS News.
The fourth annual guns-for-gift exchange in San Diego takes place Monday morning.
Evening Edition airs weekdays at 5 PM and 6:30 PM on KPBS TV.
SAN DIEGO More than 250 guns were collected today at an event downtown in which owners of firearms received gift cards in exchange for turning in a weapon - no questions asked.
The fourth annual "Gifts for Guns" exchange program, sponsored by the nonprofit United African American Ministerial Action Council (UAAMAC), attracted a long line of cars along Market Street in Lincoln Park. Unloaded guns were collected from vehicles by uniformed officers.
Participants who exchanged their handguns or standard rifles received $100 gift cards, while $200 cards were given to those who turned in assault rifles with detachable magazines. The organizers reportedly ran out of gift cards after taking in 255 guns by 11:30 a.m.
According to 10News, one of the weapons taken in by police officers was a sawed-off shotgun, according to 10News.
San Diego police Chief William Lansdowne said that's the type of illegal firearm he wants off the streets.
"The reason they don't bring it in (earlier) is because they know if they're caught with it they'll be arrested," Lansdowne told the station. "So they bring it in to get rid of it -- this gives them the one opportunity to do that in a safe way that doesn't put them in jeopardy."
Another firearm that was brought in resembled a writing pen.
The gun exchange program was created to help curb violence and is supported by the San Diego District Attorney's Office. UAAMAC said the purpose of the guns for gift program to get as many guns off the street as possible. Since the creation of the program, more than 500 guns have been taken off the streets, organizers said.
The San Diego Police Department, the District Attorney’s Office, the Sheriff’s Department, the Junior Seau Foundation and private donations pay for the gift cards.
Organizers say the collected guns will be melted down and used for scrap metal.
City News Service contributed to this story.