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OpEd Join Us in Securing Safe Neighborhoods for Every Angeleno By Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa an

Over the last several years improving public safety has been the focus of the City’s leadership.  All of our collective efforts have paid off -- we have not seen crime this low in Los Angeles since the Eisenhower Administration.  In fact, crime is down in every division of our City.  We have also been able to stem the tide of gang violence which has historically plagued our City.  Neighborhoods are safer for our residents and streets are safer for our visitors.  All who live and work in Los Angeles are reaping the benefits of our efforts as we all agree that public safety is the foundation for economic development and the creation of jobs.

Despite this progress, Los Angeles continues to breed a significant amount of gang violence with the weapon of choice for most gang members being a firearm.  Families still face violence on our streets, and each heart wrenching tragedy reminds us that our dream of security for all Angelenos is not a reality.  Whether it is an innocent child who falls victim to a stray bullet or the countless gang-on-gang shootings that too often occur in our City, there are regular reminders that we still have a long way to go in our fight against violence.

The pursuit of safer streets must focus on the two primary sources of violence in Los Angeles: gangs and guns.  More often than not, the two are tied; one the misguided enterprise of violence and the other the utility to exact it.

Within every state and local government across the country, elected officials are working around-the-clock to get guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals.  We are passing new ordinances, developing new initiatives, and bolstering our police forces to beat back the gun and gang crime on our streets.

We have long realized, however, that we cannot do it alone.  Without the support of the residents and communities we serve, our efforts are futile.

We need help from faith leaders, non-profits, and residents at large.  Everyone must play an active role in developing solutions to the violence that continues to plague many of our communities.  No legislation can replace the unified voice of a community saying no to guns, gangs, and to indiscriminate violence in our neighborhoods.  We also know that when the community is our partner the change is lasting and widespread.

For that reason, we are requesting the help of all Angelenos.

As part of our gun buyback initiative we implore anyone to turn in their guns, rifles, shotguns and assault weapons – no questions asked.   In return, they will receive gift cards ranging from $100 to $200 in value.

On May 8th – the day before Mothers’ Day – individuals can come to one of five different locations across the City to exchange their firearm for gift cards.  Nobody will ask them to identify themselves and no information about the weapon needs to be given.  We simply ask that people transport their firearms unloaded, and in the trunk of their vehicles.

In doing so, Angelenos can make a vital contribution to the safety and security of our entire community.  Last year’s Gun Buyback program resulted in the collection of nearly 1,700 firearms.  If the program kept just one of those guns from being used in a violent attack, it was a success.

This is our opportunity to make a real difference for our children and for our families.  It’s our chance to take matters into our own hands and prevent the next tragic shooting.  It is our chance to make this Mother’s Day a citywide wide commitment to protect all of the children in this city, and make the city safer for all of our communities.

Please join us in this effort.