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Program takes guns off street

People bring in their firearms in exchange for gift cards at local sheriff’s station.

May 06, 2009|By Christopher Cadelago

LA CRESCENTA — The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department collected 71 firearms and distributed $7,400 in supermarket gift cards Saturday at the Crescenta Valley Station as part of a countywide program that aims to get guns out of homes and off the streets.

Dozens of residents participated in the anonymous, drive-through exchange that saw gun owners surrender firearms in return for $50 and $100 certificates to Ralphs supermarkets. Those relinquishing assault weapons received $200 gift cards.

Sheriffs gathered 34 handguns, 23 rifles, nine shotguns and five assault weapons, said Lt. Greg Sisneros.

The station provides law enforcement services to cities surrounding Burbank and Glendale, including La Cañada Flintridge, unincorporated communities of La Crescenta, Montrose, Lake View Terrace, and much of the Angeles National Forest.

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“Coming in, not knowing how it would go, the day was definitely a success,” Sisneros said. “Considering the area, we took in about 15 fewer guns than Altadena and two additional assault weapons.”

The event capped the fifth weekend of a two-month expansion of the county’s Gifts for Guns program, which began four years ago in Compton. Last year, the Sheriff’s Department collected and destroyed more than 3,000 guns.

“It’s no-strings-attached,” Sisneros said. “We don’t ask who the guns are registered to or how they got the guns.”

Motorists made their way through two checkpoints before reaching the drop-off site, where sheriffs collected guns from trunks and truck beds. Authorities then determined whether the weapons were loaded, operational and genuine.

“Now that’s a well-made firearm,” said Sgt. Mike Brandriff, admiring a Heckler and Koch P7M8. “That gun, the quality German engineering, would go for about $1,000.”

A man who said he had given up weekly target practice turned in two riffles, an older woman dropped off an AR-15, two widows brought with them guns that belonged to their husbands, and a father of two infants offered the motive that his “partying days are over” when surrendering two pistols. The first group of motorists, however, would not surrender their names to be printed.

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