Dozens of gun-toting residents of Compton, Calif., converged on a shopping center parking lot Saturday to anonymously swap firearms for gift certificates as part of a program aimed at reducing violence in this crime-plagued city, reports the Associated Press. Each was rewarded with a $100 gift card for Circuit City or the Ralphs supermarket chain, the program’s co-sponsors.
In a line that snaked across a parking lot, participants from across Los Angeles County carried guns in cardboard boxes, plastic grocery bags and fancy leather cases. “Hopefully and prayerfully this will cut down on the shootings,” said Compton resident Ruther Daniels, 44, who turned in a .22-caliber handgun. Authorities created the program after a sharp spike in Compton’s crime rate this year. Sixty-eight homicides have been recorded so far in 2005, up from 39 in 2004, according to sheriff’s Capt. Eric Hamilton. Over three consecutive Saturdays, sheriff’s deputies amassed more than 250 firearms, including 185 handguns, 48 high-powered rifles, 15 sawed-off shotguns and a Tec-9 semiautomatic machine gun pistol.