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Deputies swap gift cards for 255 guns

Machine gun, machine pistol, assault rifles surrendered, no questions asked

Posted: April 21, 2009 2:44 p.m.
Updated: April 21, 2009 3:04 p.m.
 
Residents showed in the parking lot at Do-It Center in on Valencia Boulevard with 255 guns Saturday but sheriff's deputies weren't caught off-guard.

The firearms were surrendered, no questions asked, as part of Los Angeles County's "Gifts for Guns" program, which allows weapons to be turned over anonymously in exchange for a gift card for a local business.

Most firearms netted a $100 gift card, and $200 cards were given in return for assault and high-capacity weapons. Nearly 450 cards -- worth $22,450 -- were given away.

"We don't ask them any questions," Sheriff's Sgt. Darren Harris said. He said some people did offer stories behind the weapons.

Some of the gun owners, he said, told deputies they'd had the weapons for years and simply didn't feel comfortable having them around the house.

The cache collected Saturday boasted an array of firepower, including a Thompson .45-caliber submachine gun, an SKS assault rifle, an AR-15 assault rifle and a Tec-9 assault pistol. One person also reportedly dropped off a 20mm artillery shell that had been sitting in storage for 20 years.

All the guns will be checked, researched and test-fired by the Sheriff's Department's Scientific Services Bureau, Harris said.

"They'll look into the history of the guns as much as possible," he said, adding that one gun surrendered Saturday was apparently stolen in Idaho.

"Ultimately, our goal is to get these off the street," he said, "and make sure they aren't used ... to commit a crime."

Since Sheriff Lee Baca started the program in 2005, the program reportedly has netted more than 3,000 firearms.

Once all the weapons have been determined to be of no value as evidence they will be destroyed, Harris said. The Sheriff's Department does a mass destruction once a year of all weapons surrendered.

There are 12 more Gifts for Guns events scheduled throughout the county.

Harris said anyone who wants to surrender a firearm can also call the Sheriff's Station at any point.

"Although I can't guarantee a gift card in that case," he said.

For more information call the Sheriff's Station at (661) 255-1121.

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