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California in Brief / COMPTON

300 guns swapped for $100 gift cards

December 17, 2007|Kenneth R. Weiss

About 300 rifles, shotguns and handguns were collected from residents in exchange for $100 gift cards in a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department program to get guns off the street in this city with a high number of homicides, officials said.

"We ran out of gift cards, it was so successful," sheriff's Deputy Tim Tellez said of the program that ended Sunday. The Sheriff's Department offered cards to Target, Best Buy, Home Depot and Ralphs in exchange for any working firearm.

"We don't ask questions," Tellez said. "In the past few years, we've had a high homicide rate. Our program is to take unwanted weapons off the street and create a safer community."

The guns are checked to see whether they were stolen or can be linked to known crimes, he said. Many are at risk of being stolen in burglaries and then ending up in the hands of criminals.

"Many are passed down as heirlooms and people don't know to get rid of them until they learn of our exchange program," he said.

-- Ken Weiss

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