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[whitespace] Weapons turned in to police are as varied as the reasons

Los Gatos--When citizens have guns that they no longer want, they often bring them to law enforcement offices to be destroyed, according to Sgt. Keith Bayley, with the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department. But along with the usual assortment of handguns and rifles, people have also turned in some interesting pieces, such as bayonets or hand grenades, that a grandfather had been storing in the attic since World War II.

At the Sheriff's West Valley Substation in Saratoga on Sept. 18, a Westview Drive resident turned in a large amount of black powder and ammunition. A sheriff's bomb technician carefully transported the flammable and explosive materials to sheriff's headquarters in San Jose. The powder and ammunition had belonged to the resident's father, who recently passed away.

At the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department, citizens bring in guns for destruction about one to four times per month, according to Sgt. Tim Morgan. On Sept. 5, a Lora Drive resident turned in an Uzi semi-automatic rifle along with two magazines and a fabric case for destruction.

The sheriffs and police see all kinds of different weapons and ammunition come through for destruction, and the reasons that people bring them in are just as varied.

According to Morgan, some have brought in weapons that were left by a family member who passed away. Others brought in their guns because they simply became old, rusted or unusable and the owners wanted to get rid of them. In some cases, gun owners have children in the house and don't want guns present. People tend to come in around the holidays with guns that they want destroyed, Morgan said.

Once the sheriffs and police collect the weapons, they are crushed, heated or ground into scrap metal. They are often destroyed along with evidence from completed trials, such as knives or guns, Bayley said.

Both the sheriffs and the LG-MSPD have participated in gun buy-backs or gifts-for-guns programs, in conjunction with other agencies, where members of the community can turn their guns in for destruction in return for rewards, such as tickets to a San Jose Sharks game. The LG-MSPD usually holds a gifts-for-guns day in December.

Even when there is not a gun program going on, it is free for citizens to bring their firearms in for destruction.

"We recommend to anybody who doesn't want a firearm that they do bring it down," Morgan said, adding that the LG-MSPD asks people to leave the firearm unloaded and locked in the trunk of their car and to come into the police station or sheriffs office empty handed. A potentially dangerous situation could arise if a person were to walk into the police station or sheriffs office with a gun in their hand, Morgan said.
Leigh Ann Maze

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