Los Angeles' annual gun buyback program yesterday was a huge success, despite the fact that officials only had ten days to plan and promote it:
Droves of people with guns in hand lined up at the L.A. Memorial Sports Arena and Van Nuys Masonic Temple from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the day after Christmas, exchanging their guns anonymously, "no questions asked," for Ralphs gift cards. Automatic weapons donations scored $200 gift cards, while handguns, rifles and shotguns in good condition were exchanged for $100 gift cards. Nonworking pistols and rifles were swapped for $50 gift cards. The turnout was so great that police actually ran out of gift cards. The budget, according to KTLA, was $150,000.
In total, the city collected 2,037 guns yesterday, including 75 assault weapons. That's 2,037 guns off the streets and out of people's homes. Given a little incentive, a lot of people are willing to give up their weapons, especially once they are educated about the inherent risk of keeping a gun in the house.
So why don't we have a gun buyback program here in Seattle? Is it the money? The gift cards for this buyback were reportedly donated by Ralphs, a local supermarket chain. Couldn't Safeway or QFC or Albertson's step up and do the same here? Or how about one of those billionaires who threw millions at passing initiatives this past November? Couldn't one of them step up and put $150,000 toward getting a couple thousand guns off the streets?
I mean, those pro-charter schools billionaires say they care so much about closing the achievement gap—how about spending a few bucks decreasing these kids chances of being shot?
I'm totally serious. All it takes is one wealthy person or corporation to write one check, and we can get this ball rolling. Seattle ran a successful gun buyback program 20 years ago—funded by anonymous donors—now's the time, while the awareness and the outrage remains high, to run one again.