AFP | An annual “guns for gifts” amnesty scheme in the crime-ridden Los Angeles district of Compton saw a record spike in yet another sign of the ailing US economy, official figures showed Monday.
The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department has offered electronics store and supermarket gift vouchers in exchange for firearms since 2005 in an innovative tactic aimed at ridding Compton of illegally held weapons.
Last year a total of 387 guns were gathered as part of the drive, which sees 100 dollar gift vouchers given for people turning in firearms and 200 dollar tokens for assault weapons.
This year’s drive however saw a record haul of 965 guns, with sheriff’s department officials speculating the return was a result of the faltering economy, and noting that more people were asking for supermarket vouchers.
“People just don’t have the money to buy the food these days,” Sergeant Byron Woods told Fox 11 television. Most of the residents who turned in weapons were “family people.”
“One guy said he had just got laid off from his job,” Woods said. “He turned in five guns and said it would really help him to put food on the family’s table.”
Police will check to see if any of the weapons have been used in crimes before destroying them.
Among the weapons handed in this year were a Soviet-era semi-automatic carbine and two hand grenades, local media reported.