It's particularly difficult for you to sleep tonight. You're stressed out because you've just lost your job. Your boss says business is slow and he can't afford to keep you on any longer. You know that your wife's salary and your temporary unemployment pay will not be enough to cover your rent and other bills. You're unskilled and there are thousands, like you, looking for work. You lie in bed contemplating the prospects of finding a job in the next few weeks and conclude they are pretty grim. Your chest tightens. You lay still fighting back the tears when suddenly you hear a noise in your hallway. You stealthily reach for your weapon and point it towards your bedroom door. The door creaks open and there in the soft light you can make out the image of your 5 year old daughter. "Daddy I'm hungry." Your brief moment of relief after learning that it's not an unwelcome burglar is swept away when you remember that there's no food in the house. Instantly you're overcome with shame and sadness. You point the gun to your temple and for a second, you consider the short road out of this nightmare. You decide that you lack the courage for that route and instead look at your baseball hat and hooded jacket on a chair next to the bed. You consider donning both and walking down to the local 24 hour convenience store with gun in hand and helping yourself to some milk and bread. The image of you being handcuffed and taken off to jail or lying dead on a cold floor while the owner stands over you with a shotgun halts this fantasy. Instead, you comfort your child as best as you can and manage to get her to fall asleep again. You lay awake all night and stare at the ceiling trying your best not to wake your wife. The occasional tear rolls down the side of your face and into your ear. Morning comes far too quickly but you saunter out of bed with a plan. It's a quick fix and short term option but the only solution you can come up with. You get dressed, tuck your pistol into your waist band and walk down to the local Los Angeles County Sheriffs station where you find the "Gifts for Guns" program. Humbly, you turn in your weapon for a $100.00 gift card to the local grocery store. You think to yourself - This just might buy enough food to last us through the Christmas holiday!
According to Sgt. Byron Woods of the L.A. Sheriff's department - "This year, most asked for the supermarket cards. People just don't have the money to buy the food these days."
Deputies expected to collect about 1,000 weapons this year. Authorities said 590 guns and two hand grenades were handed in during the last weekend in November, more than the total collected in any year and eclipsing last year's 387 guns.
Woods said most of the residents who turned in weapons were "family people."
"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."
Gun owners dropped their weapons off at a local grocery store parking lot. Deputies checked the weapons to see if they had been used in crimes, then destroyed them.
Contact your local Sheriff's/Police department if you wish to turn in a weapon for a gift.