LBPD Gun Buyback Exchanges 168 Firearms For Gift Cards

Gun Buy Back

Photo courtesy of the Long Beach Police Department. Second photo by Charles Snyder.

The Long Beach Police Department’s North Division station hosted the first gun buyback in more than a decade last Saturday, collecting 168 firearms, including five assault weapons during the eight-hour event. 

Residents came out and exchanged rifles, pistols and assault rifles for gift cards values at $50, $100 and $200, depending on the type and condition of the firearm. More than $17,000 in grocery store gift cards were given.

“The goal of the event, held at the North Police Substation, was to reduce the number of guns in the Long Beach community,” city officials said in a press release. “While there are many lawful gun owners, their guns are sometimes stolen and used in the commission of a violent crime. Reducing the number of guns would lessen the chances of this happening.”

gunbuybackSix months in the making, the gun buyback was made possible by an initial proposal from 9th District Councilmember Steve Neal, who after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, saw a need for a way to help residents dispose of their unwanted weapons. With the support of 8th District Councilmember Al Austin and 7th District Councilmember James Johnson, the Council voted unanimously in January to look into the feasibility of such a program in Long Beach.

At issue for LBPD Chief Jim McDonnell at the time was the anonymity agreement many law enforcement agencies put into place that absolves the person who turned in the firearm if it is discovered that it was used in a crime. Studies have shown that guns turned in during such programs are those least likely to be used in a crime.

On January 21, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department collected 386 weapons during a gun buyback in Compton that was held near the Long Beach border, a number that officials say is much lower than what is usually brought in to the events which, until 2009, were held annually. According to the L.A. Times, in late December, the Los Angeles Police Department collected 2037 firearms at a similar buyback, including 75 assault weapons and two rocket launchers. Another one in May yielded more than 1200 weapons.

Though gun buybacks are frequently held by the Los Angeles Police Department, only three have been held in Long Beach since 1993.

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Sarah Bennett is a contributor to the Hi-lo and the editor-at-large at the Long Beach Post. She is also a professor at Santa Ana College where she was once a student before transferring to USC to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Sarah has written about music, art, food and beer in local, national and international publications for over a decade. An L.A. native and longtime resident of Long Beach, she is the co-founder of Long Beach Zine Fest and managing editor at theLAnd magazine. She never sleeps.