As part of a new gun exchange program, San Diegans traded in handguns and rifles for gift cards Monday, no questions asked.
San Diego police officers received 239 guns at the office of the United African-American Ministerial Action Council at 4981 Market Street. There were 22 assault-type guns. Ammo and holsters were also turned in.
Many people turned in their guns with no incentive. They were just happy to find a place to dispose of the weapons. Others received gift cards to grocery or electronics stores.
“We’re happy to get all of these guns,” said Mona Vallon, property room supervisor with the San Diego police department. “If guns are sitting in a garage or in a bedroom unused, there is potential for a burglary and for the gun to be used in a crime.”
This event was put together in a very short period of time but the word got out. Cars lined up in the parking lot as officers walked out to the cars sitting in the rain to collect the guns.
James Salmon dropped off a rifle. “My stepson had it in storage. It’s never been fired and was all rusted up,” said Salmon. “I don’t want it sitting in the house. I just wanted to get rid of it, that’s all.”
“I think it’s great. Good timing right before Christmas,” said Matt O’Connor who turned in a .22 handgun. “I was broken into a couple of years ago. I didn’t have guns in the house at the time. It could happen.”
Rev. Ikenna Kokayi , chairman and CEO of the United African American Ministerial Action Council, organized the event.
“We did this in order to remove as many guns as we possibly could from the street,” said Rev. Kokayi. “Understanding we did not expect a lot of criminals to turn their guns. This gives the citizens the opportunity to participate in their own safety by removing these guns.
The San Diego Police department will accept guns at any time. If you missed this opportunity and have a gun you would like to return to the police department, bring the gun unloaded and secured in the trunk of your car. Walk to the front lobby without the gun and tell them you want to turn in a gun. Someone from the police department will return to your car to help you.
If you’re unable to get to the nearest police station, call the non-emergency number and they will schedule a time when officers can come and pick up the weapons. Call (619) 531 – 2000 for more information.
All of the guns will be destroyed unless they are reported stolen. In that case, police will attempt to contact the registered owner of the gun.