LONG BEACH - Long Beach could join other cities across the country that have turned to gun buybacks to help curb gun violence following an elementary school shooting in Connecticut.
A proposal on Tuesday's City Council agenda sponsored by Councilman Steve Neal requests that City Manager Pat West work with Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell to look into creating and funding a gun buyback program.
The findings would be returned to the council within 90 days.
Los Angeles, which has held a gun buyback on each Mother's Day since 2009, offered supermarket gift cards last month in exchange for firearms after the Dec. 14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 children and six adults dead.
Two empty rocket launchers were among the 2,037 weapons surrendered in the Los Angeles "no-questions-asked" buyback.
Neal said an amnesty provision has not been looked on favorably in his discussions with Long Beach police officials about a gun turn-in program.
"What if the gun has been used in a murder or robbery?" Neal asked.
"I'm not saying what our program will be, but one of the concerns of the police is that it doesn't curtail them from being able to do their job."
Police declined last week to comment on a possible firearms buyback, pending discussion.
The last gun buyback in Long Beach was in 1999, according to LBPD spokeswoman Nancy Pratt.
The city also operated a gun buyback in May 1994.
Then, Ralphs markets donated 50 certificates for $100 in groceries. About 100 people participated in the first-come, first-served, no-questions-asked event.
Guns collected at such events are typically destroyed, though police at the Los Angeles buyback checked the weapons to determine if they were stolen, and if they were, then attempted to return them to their owners.
Studies have shown that the guns usually turned in at buybacks are long guns such as rifles rather than semiautomatic pistols or assault rifles that are more likely to be used in crimes.
Statistics obtained by the Press-Telegram last year showed that as of July 24 the city had logged 162 shootings, 72 of which were believed to be gang-related. Compared to the same time the previous year, there were 117 shootings, 64 of them gang-related, according to the LBPD.
Crime figures for all of 2012 are expected to be released this week, but unofficial numbers indicate that overall violent crime declined last year.
Neal, whose proposal is co-sponsored by Councilmen James Johnson and Al Austin, acknowledged the criticisms leveled at gun buybacks. However, he said such programs still have value in making the community and law enforcement officers safer.
"If it ultimately saves one life, then we've accomplished something," Neal said.