Los Angeles County Sheriff Sherman Block and Supervisor Gloria Molina have asked residents to turn in guns--no questions asked--to any sheriff's station in hopes of reducing gun violence over the holidays.
Block said he hopes the "Season of Peace" drive, which ends Jan. 12, collects more weapons than an effort last spring in which 100 guns were turned in from throughout the county.
Some of the guns turned in last spring had been reported stolen, but none had been used in a crime, Block said.
The effort was announced Monday at the Sheriff's Community Center in East Los Angeles because of the number of gang shootings in the area, he said. "That's where we've had the greatest increase in gang homicides."
The number of murders reported so far this year in the area covered by the East Los Angeles station is 43, compared to 34 last year, said Capt. Ramon C. Sanchez.
"Now more than ever, our community is confronted by juveniles armed with guns. Unfortunately, young people who carry weapons may be associated with violent street gangs and may become involved in drive-by shootings," Block and Molina wrote in a letter to 1st Supervisorial District residents.
The letter cites unspecified studies contending that a child associated with gangs is 60 times more likely to be murdered than non-gang members and urges anyone who wishes to turn in a weapon to call the sheriff's station first.
Residents should place the gun in the trunk of their car and then go into the station and ask for a deputy to come and retrieve it from the vehicle, Molina said.
The drive is being made without financial incentives, Block said, because he did not want to entice people to go out and buy guns in order to get the rewards.