Guns collected during Pasadena-area buyback program. (Raul Roa )
Thanks to a push from local faith-based organizations and an assist from the Pasadena Police Department, 135 guns were taken off the streets Saturday at the Pasadena Area Gun Buyback and Peace-source Fair.
More than a hundred gun owners drove up to the Pasadena PD and unloaded guns to be traded for gift certificates to Ralphs, Target and Best Buy stores.
According to Lt. Tracey Ibarra, of the weapons collected, about half were rifles and half were pistols — and there were some especially notable items, including an AK-47 assault rifle, an SKS assault rifle and a sniper rifle with scope that would be repurposed by the department for training use.
The gift certificates, which were purchased with the almost $20,000 raised by local churches and businesses, were given out in amounts of $50 for a handgun, $100 for a rifle and $200 for an assault rifle.
Pasadena Chief of Police Phillip Sanchez said it was a positive sign to see local community groups working to provide funding for the buyback.
"I think it's just a great example of collaboration between local community and government," he said.
Sanchez said gun buybacks are just one facet of a successful approach to reducing violence, but that they are important because they're a chance to collect guns that are no longer being used and thus are not secured.
"Our bigger concern right now … are those gun owners who don't store their guns in a safe or they don't keep a gun-locking mechanism," he said. "Sometimes when burglaries occur those firearms end up out on the street."
The police department provided the officers and resources to collect the guns, and to have them safely transported to be destroyed, and had free gun locks available, along with firearms safety information.
While waiting to receive his gift certificate, Henry A. Johnson said he bought his .30-06-caliber carbine in the 1970s to take to San Luis Obispo to hunt deer, but at 75 years old, he was ready to get rid of the only gun he owned.
"I used to use it for hunting, and I don't hunt anymore," he said. "I'm too old to climb the rocks."
Meanwhile, at the Peace-source Fair held around the corner on Thurgood Marshall Street, a handful of people came out to see the dozens of groups participating in anti-violence efforts, including many churches, and to hear speakers talk about the impact and importance of reducing violence in the community.
Organizer Jill Shook said a crucial aspect of the fair was fostering communication and cooperation between the different faith-based and advocacy groups in Pasadena.
"The churches have a huge voice, violence is a deeply spiritual issue," she said. "Not just the Christian churches but there's Muslims, there's Buddhists, there's a broad spectrum, so by being united on this one issue, we can make a big difference."
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