abc.net.au / By North America correspondent Kim Landers, wires / Updated Thu Dec 27, 2012 2:04pm AEDT
The mayor of Los Angeles has backed US president Barack Obama’s call for a ban on assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa brought forward the date of a gun buyback event following the December 14 shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, that left 26 people dead.
The Boxing Day buyback saw 1,016 weapons, including 41 rifles, handed over.
Gun owners could take their arms to one of two locations in return for a $100 grocery store gift card for handguns, rifles and shotguns, or a $200 card for automatic weapons.
“Cities and states must join with the federal government to do everything we can, as quickly as we can, to keep our community safe and to get deadly weapons off our streets,” Mr Villaraigosa said.
“It is absolutely critical to provide Angelinos with concrete actions they can take today to make our city safer tomorrow.”
Los Angeles’ police chief Charlie Beck said 8,000 weapons had been handed in since the program started in 2009.
“We have literally cut gun violence by over a third, a remarkable statistic when many, many parts of our region and our country are not seeing decreases in crime,” he said.
Long lines of cars formed as Los Angeles gun owners turned in weapons.
Sergeant Rudy Lopez from the LAPD said the fact that police were asking no questions was a key incentive.
“See that? That’s a silencer,” he said, pointing to an assault weapon.
“That’s illegal. We didn’t say anything.”