In a Los Angeles inner city neighborhood, record numbers of gun owners are giving up their weapons in return for gift cards to buy food and other goods, reports the Associated Press. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department ended its annual Gifts for Guns program in Compton yesterday, allowing residents to anonymously relinquish firearms in return for $100 gift cards for supermarkets, department stores or electronics stores. People get double that amount for turning in assault rifles. “The majority of the people want the food cards,” said sheriff’s Sgt. Byron Woods. “People just don’t have the money to buy the food these days.”
A record 965 firearms and two hand grenades were handed in during the two weekends the program was in operation. That’s more than in any other year and easily eclipses last year’s total of 387 guns collected over both weekends. “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.” Weapons turned in tested to see if they have been used in crimes, then destroyed. Compton, a working-class city of 95,000, has long struggled against gang and gun violence.