The LAPD’s gun buyback program handed out grocery store gift cards to residents who voluntarily turn in firearms.
Over 2,000 weapons were taken off Los Angeles streets during a gun buyback on Dec. 26–including two military grade rocket grenade launchers.
“Those are weapons of war, weapons of death,” LAPD Chief Charlie Beck told the Los Angeles Times. “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.”
Los Angeles police believe the rockets are antiquated, “stripped-down shells” that can no longer be fired. The LAPD is cooperating with the U.S. military to investigate whether the rockets were ever stolen.
The former owners told officers at the buyback that the rockets were handed down by family members who had been in the military.
“They no longer wanted the launchers in their homes,” Detective Gus Villanueva told the Times. The LAPD’s gun buyback program hands out grocery store gift cards to residents who voluntarily turn in firearms. To encourage participation, the department has a “no questions asked” policy. Residents received up to $100 for giving up their handguns, rifles, and shotguns and up to $200 for assault weapons.
The people who turned in the rocket launchers did not receive a gift card.
Along with the two launchers, the LAPD collected 901 handguns, 698 rifles, 363 shotguns, and 75 assault rifles on Dec. 26. The buyback event was scheduled for Mother’s Day in 2013, but was moved up in response to the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Despie the change in date, the department gathered 400 more weapons than they did during a buyback earlier in the year.
“Although the scope of today’s success cannot be measured, the guns displayed here will never be used to harm innocent people,” said Chief Beck at a news conference on Thursday. “It is also a solemn remembrance of those victims’ lives lost this year due to gun violence.”