The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department took in a record haul of firearms this year through its Gifts for Guns program, an annual event in Compton that allows people to anonymously turn in firearms in exchange for $100 gift cards at Target, Best Buy or Ralphs supermarkets.
Over the last two weekends, deputies collected 965 weapons and distributed more than $95,000 in gift cards, deputies said. That far surpassed last year's total of 387 guns. Deputies speculate that the shrinking economy may be behind the rise in participation.
"I talked to a lot of the people coming through, and most of the people were just interested in getting food and clothing for their families," said Sgt. Byron Woods of the Sheriff's Department. "A lot of them normally wouldn't have turned in their guns, but they really need to put food on the table."
In past years, Target and Best Buy cards were the most coveted, Woods said.
But this year, the supermarket cards were the most popular.
The gift cards were paid for by the city of Compton and by Los Angeles County, which the city pays to provide patrols. The program's starting budget of $55,000 was spent in the first weekend, so the Sheriff's Department gave an additional $45,000, according to Deputy Tim Tellez, who was in charge of this year's event.