Los Angeles, CA – Police in Los Angeles, California are now offering gift cards, which can be used to buy groceries, in exchange for guns. The annual program offered by the Los Angeles Police Department usually takes place in May. The program was scheduled earlier this time in the wake of the tragedy in Connecticut and a recent public outcry for stricter gun control.
Like similar gun buyback programs, the one offered by LAPD is anonymous. No questions asked. Officials have set up two different locations for the exchange program. The Van Nuys Masonic Center and the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena are both accepting handguns, rifles, shotguns in exchange for a $100 gift card to Ralph’s Grocery Store. An assault weapon is worth $200 of groceries. KSWT News reports that the LAPD buyback last May collected nearly 1700 guns.
Over 150 guns had already been exchanged for grocery gift cards within in the first half hour today, according to Daily News Los Angeles. Doug Johnson, an undercover gang and narcotics officer provided information that of the guns collected so far this morning, several were automatic or semi-automatic assault rifles. One of the weapons collected was AK-47 and a Bushmaster rifle, which was used used in the Newtown, Connecticut massacre on December 14.
The buyback program is not without controversy. Protesters lined the driveway at one location, shouting at cars passing by. Bruce Boyer, self-appointed “head instigator” of the Sons of Liberty, a pro-gun group in Los Angeles, was among the protesters. Boyer, the owner of a security company in The San Fernando Valley explained that instead of encouraging citizens to give up their guns, the police should be warning citizens to better protect themselves by purchasing more guns.
Several people who were interviewed while leaving stated that the groceries were not the only inspiration for turning in their guns. Many people mentioned the recent tragedy in Connecticut as having inspired them to exchange their guns.