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LA holds gun buyback early after US school shooting

Los Angeles' no-questions-asked gun buyback event, where weapons could be exchanged for up to $200, was held Wednesday, five months early after the Connecticut school shooting.

Gun owners could take their arms to one of two locations in return for a $100 grocery store gift card for handguns, rifles and shotguns, or a $200 card for automatic weapons.

"Cities and states must join with the federal government to do everything we can, as quickly as we can, to keep our communities safe," said LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

"It is absolutely critical to provide Angelenos with concrete actions they can take today to make our city safer tomorrow," he added.

Villaraigosa brought forward the date of the event, usually held in May, following the December 14 shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in which a gunman killed 26 people including 20 young children.

LA's fourth annual Gun Buyback Program, held in May this year, netted 1,673 firearms, a four-year low. The tally included 53 assault weapons.

Critics question the effectiveness of gun buyback events, arguing that the weapons surrendered tend to be the least likely to be used in criminal activities, such as guns which are old or malfunctioning.

"The theory underlying gun buyback programs is badly flawed, said a 2004 National Academy of Sciences study, "Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review."

"The empirical evidence demonstrates the ineffectiveness of these programs," it added.

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