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Mayor Moves Annual Gun Buyback Event to Next Week to Make L.A. Safer In Wake of Newtown Massacre [UPDATED]

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In a press conference held today at 1 p.m., L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa expressed condolences to all impacted by the horrific mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday. Additionally, Villaraigosa said that as part of a "national conversation" discussions are arising about better access to mental health care, as well as a need for tighter gun control legislation.

In an effort to be more immediately proactive in getting firearms off the streets of Los Angeles, Villaraigosa announced that the popular annual city-wide gun buyback event will be moved from May to the day after Christmas.

"We feel it's absolutely critical to provide Angelenos with concrete actions that they can take today to make our city safer," said Villaraigosa.

The gun buyback program, which took place for the forth consecutive year this past May, offers Angelenos the opportunity to "voluntarily surrender" their firearms in exchange for gift cards.

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The guns are turned in with no questions asked and anonymously. The weapons are researched to determine if they are stolen or were used in a crime, otherwise they are destroyed.

Curiously, in May, Villaraigosa noted he acknowledges it's not likely these guns would be used in crimes, but rather could be involved in accidental or self-defense shootings. Today Villaraigosa said the gun buyback program "helps us work towards the common goal of reducing gun violence."

Nearly 8,000 guns have been turned in since the program began.

"Right now is the time to act," remarked Villaraigosa regarding the aftermath of the Newtown shootings.

The gun buyback event will be held on December 26. Those surrendering assault rifles will receive $200 Ralphs gift cards, and those turning in handguns and smaller firearms will receive $100 Ralphs gift cards. Information about drop off locations will be provided soon.

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UPDATE: The gun buyback will take place between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. at just two locations, the Los Angeles Sports Arena and the Van Nuys Masonic Temple.