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Los Angeles collects most guns ever, in post-Newtown buyback event

Police collected more than 2,000 firearms Wednesday in Los Angeles, during a gun buyback event held less than two weeks after the mass shootings in Newtown, Conn. Do such city initiatives help reduce gun violence?

By Staff writer / December 27, 2012

A police officer tosses a modified gun into a trash bin at a gun buyback held by the Los Angeles Police Department on December 26, following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

David McNew/Reuters

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The city of Los Angeles, one of several municipalities to hold a gun buyback event since the Dec. 14 mass shooting in Newton, Conn., collected more than 2,000 firearms – a record, police officials reported Thursday.

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Los Angeles had moved up the date of its no-questions-asked gun turn-in with the hope that the Newtown tragedy would prompt residents to surrender some firearms, thereby reducing the number of guns in circulation. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the city would gave $100 to $200 gift cards in exchange for each gun recovered.

At a press conference Thursday, police officials said they collected 2,037 firearms, surpassing the 1,673 guns collected last year.

Los Angeles is the largest city to host a gun buyback day since the Newtown shootings, which killed 20 schoolchildren, six school faculty and staff, and the gunman's mother. Smaller cities have made similar calls for guns, including Evanston, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, which collected 45 firearms, mostly handguns, in exchange for cash. Last Saturday outside Miami in Opa-Locka, Fla., 100 firearms were collected, almost double the total collected in a similar buyback event in June.

A buyback event is planned Saturday in Bridgeport, Conn. – about 30 miles from Newtown – and city officials say repeat dates are scheduled every Saturday in January. 

Forty-one members of the US House of Representatives, all Democrats, are calling for a federal gun buyback program. The letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R) and majority leader Nancy Pelosi (D), co-written by US Reps. Gerald Connolly of Virginia and Ted Deutch of Florida, asks for $200 million to fund a program that “could remove as many as 1 million guns from our streets.”

“The murder of 20 youngsters and five educators in their classrooms has galvanized the public’s desire for immediate action, and partnering with the States on a nationwide gun buyback program is a modest, common sense start,” they wrote.

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