LAPD's Gun Buyback Day Collects Almost 800 Guns... And An Anti-Tank Rocket Launcher

On Friday, LAPD reviewed the latest installment of its long standing gun buyback program. As the program goes, anyone may bring their unwanted weapon to LAPD on a gun buyback day, and the department will take it away and melt it down, no questions asked. In exchange for gun, LAPD will give away gift card worth up to $200.

This year, the LAPD collected almost 800 unwanted weapons from Angelenos, and distributed more than $80,000 in gift cards to those who surrendered their guns, according to the Los Angeles Times. In the mix this year was an anti-tank rocket launcher, an uzi, and 40 assault weapons. Aside from those weapons, LAPD also collected 370 handguns, 220 rifles, and 143 shotguns, according to the L.A. Daily News.

"Each of these guns represents one less opportunity to take a life, or to lose a life," said Mayor Eric Garcetti during a news conference at LAPD headquarters. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck echoed Garcetti, describing how "I know there are a number of studies that show just gun buybacks don't affect the number of victims shot. This is part of the greater strategy. It's also not just a crime issue. Most gun violence is suicide."

These studies challenge the effectiveness of gun buyback programs because, by their understanding, the people who bring firearms to a police buyback event differ on the whole from those who commit gun violence. At the same time, the LAPD stands buy its decision to continue hosting its gun buyback program because it reduces the raw number of firearms possessed by members of the general public. Guns and other weapons can be stolen, found by children, or used to commit suicide. To keep this in perspective, roughly 60 percent of the 33,000 or so annual gun deaths in the United States each year are the result of suicide, according to the New York Times.

"Had we done all of this for one gun, it would have been a success," said L.A. City Councilmember Mitch Englander, whose father was shot and killed in a 1994 robbery. "This gun buyback program, make no mistake, is going to save lives, period. Guns end up in the wrong hands far too often everyday."

Since the LAPD's gun buyback program began in 2009, the Department has collected and melted approximately 16,000 guns. The year before the program began, more than 1,600 people were struck by a bullet in Los Angeles, including many of the that year's 384 homicides. By 2016, that number had fallen fallen by approximately 500, and the homicide count dropped to 290.