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How 2 Rocket Launchers Ended Up At L.A.'s Gun Buyback

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At Los Angeles' gun buyback program this week, there were 2 rocket launchers among the 2,037 weapons turned in for gift cards at the annual event.

The police department agrees to buy weapons without asking any questions about where they came from, but police were able to get a little bit of information, according to the Los Angeles Times. The people who offered up the rocket launchers said they had family members that used to be in the military. But they decided that they time had come that "they no longer wanted the launchers in their homes."

Military experts who took a look at the weapons for the Times corroborated part of their story: they appear to be antitank weapons from the military. One of the weapons looks like an AT4, an unguided antitank weapon that fires a single shot. If it makes you feel any better, Det. Gus Villanueva told the Times that the rocket launchers didn't have the technical parts it needed to actually discharge a projectile. Neither had rockets with them either.

Some questions will be asked about these weapons: police are going to look into whether the U.S. military reported them stolen.

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It's not unusual for something, well, unusual to turn up at gun buyback programs. In 2010, someone turned in a grenade. Officials told the LA Weekly that rocket launchers had been turned in before. (And in Brooklyn, a "wallet gun" got turned in at a buyback event.)

Beck said that even though the rocket launchers didn't pose a danger, he was glad to have them off the street: "Those are weapons of war, weapons of death. These are not hunting guns. These are not target guns. These are made to put high-velocity, extremely deadly, long-range rounds down-range as quickly as possible, and they have no place in our great city."

This event buyback was largely considered a success and the city bought more weapons than it expected. However, it's worth noting that while 2,000 guns sounds like a lot of guns (because it is), it's not a whole lot compared to the estimated 1 million firearms in the city. There's no way to actually tell how many guns there are in the country overall, but for the first 11 months of 2012 there were 16.8 million applications to purchase a gun and that might not have included applications for Christmas presents.