S.F. program collects 119 guns, hands out gifts

A quietly trotted-out program to remove guns from San Francisco’s homes and streets netted 119 firearms over the weekend while 10 gun crimes were reported.

The Gifts for Guns program is a mayoral initiative that offered people cash cards and grocery gift certificates of $100 to $200 in a no-questions-asked trade for their unwanted firearms. Other cities, such as Los Angeles and Boston, have offered similar trades with mixed success.

San Francisco has recorded 64 homicides this year, compared with 48 at the same time last year and on track with recent record-setting homicide years.

While stabbings are on the rise, compared with previous years, gunshots still make up the majority of homicides. In addition, the San Francisco Police Department recorded at least 10 gun crimes during the weekend, including shootings and armed robberies.

On Saturday, city officials set up shop in the Civic Center, offering $100 Wells Fargo cash cards and $50 Safeway gift certificates in exchange for working firearms. “The vast majority were either pistols or revolvers, commonly known as handguns,” Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice Director Lenore Anderson said Monday.

Participants were offered differing sums, corresponding to the desirability of each gun, Anderson said. They received $100 for rifles, $150 for handguns and $200 for assault weapons.

According to San Francisco police Sgt. Mikail Ali, who works with the Office of Criminal Justice, the drive netted seven illegal guns, including five assault rifles, a sawed-off shotgun and a sawed-off rifle.

If reported stolen, the guns would be returned to their owners after a state background check, Ali said. If not reported stolen or if no legal owner can be found, the guns will be destroyed.

Anderson said the department gave out about 300 gift cards. She said The City still has another 300 cards, which it will use to conduct another drive before the end of the year.

amartin@examiner.com

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