444 guns turned in to LAPD anonymous gun buyback program

Gun owners had the opportunity to take part in Los Angeles' anonymous gun buyback program to help get firearms off the city's streets amid an increase in gun violence and homicides during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hundreds of guns were turned in during Saturday’s event. There were 304 guns turned in at the Van Nuys site and 140 at the South Los Angeles site, police said.

Los Angeles Police Department personnel assigned a value to the firearm depending on its condition. Owners received giftcards worth up to $100 for handguns, shotguns and rifles, and up to $200 for assault weapons.

The program is completely anonymous and gun owners were not asked any
questions about their firearms.

Mike Jones went to Volunteers of America Los Angeles and turned in a .22-caliber automatic that he bought at a pawn shop back in 1995.

"I didn't want to just give it or sell it on the streets, so I figured this was the safest way to do it,'' Jones said.

LAPD Capt. Alex Baez, the commanding officer of the Newton Division in South Los Angeles, said the buyback program "is just another step in trying to get (guns) out of the wrong hands.''

"Our statistics are really alarming,'' Baez said. "When you look at the fact that this time last year, our officers had recovered about 60 firearms. We're up to 160 already this year, and every single day it seems like we're recovering two or three firearms at every stop.''

Guns could also be turned in from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Van Nuys Masonic Building Association.

The effectiveness of gun buyback programs in reducing crime 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, and the empirical evidence demonstrates the
ineffectiveness of these programs.''

The report found that guns that are typically surrendered in buyback programs are those that are least likely to be used in criminal activities, such as guns that are old or malfunctioning.

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