Bill Would Prohibit Gun Buyback Giftcards from Retailers that Sell Guns, Ammo

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SACRAMENTO -- Gun buybacks are used by law enforcement across the state to get guns out of homes off the streets, but one state assemblywoman says there's a problem with one aspect of the program and has introduced a bill to change it.

A recent gun buyback in San Diego was so popular law enforcement had to turn away people because they ran out of gift cards, but the type of gift cards authorities were using to pay people at that buyback caught the attention of State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher, D-San Diego.

"Let's make sure that those public funds are used in a way that ensures it's not going to go to additional gun and ammunition purchases," Gonzalez-Fletcher said.

The event traded Walmart gift cards for guns. Gonzalez-Fletcher's issue with that is that Walmart is a major gun retailer and though their California stores don't sell guns, it is the largest ammunition retailer in the state.

"It seems counterproductive that we'd be saying, 'Here, let me buy back your old, useless, illegal handgun and here's a gift card to somewhere you can purchase either a gun or ammunition legally,'" she said.

Tuesday, the Assembly Public Safety Committee held a hearing on Gonzalez-Fletcher's new bill AB1903, which would ban gun buybacks from giving out gift cards to places that sell guns or ammunition such as Big 5, Dick's Sporting Goods and Walmart.

Craig DeLuz, spokesman for the California Firearms Policy Coalition, spoke out against the bill Tuesday.

"In a rush to do something to stop gun violence, people think that doing anything is the same as doing something," he said.

DeLuz argued that lawmakers are ignoring the bigger picture -- whether gun buybacks are effective -- and says communities would be better served by law enforcement tracing the origins of the weapons turned in and cracking down on people who illegally own them.

"It is an utter waste of time because they don't want to do what they really need to do and that is go after criminals and go after people who are actually committing crimes," DeLuz said.

The bill passed out of the public safety committee and will now head to the appropriations committee.

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