CHICAGO (CBS) – Chicago police collected more than 5,500 firearms and counting from a gun turn-in program Saturday designed to take dangerous weapons off the street.
Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said the tally could go considerably higher. Pallets were still being unloaded at a Homan Square facility where the weapons were being sorted.
"I'm quite certain that if you look at some of these heavy weapons we certainly are making a difference here, just by getting these guns off the street," McCarthy said at a Saturday evening news conference to show off some of the weapons.
The firearms ranged from an M-60 machine gun and sawed-off shotguns to to pen-like "zip" guns that can fire a lethal round. Of the 5,500-plus weapons, about 700 turned out to be BB-guns or replicas, McCarthy said.
During the gun turn-in Saturday, dubbed "Don't Kill a Dream, Save a Life," Chicagoans could turn in firearms, no questions asked, at churches to get $100 gift cards for each firearm. BB-guns and replicas were worth $10 cards. Some locations ran out of gift cards and had to give people IOUs.
This year's gun turn-in appeared to be one of the more successful. By comparison, the tally in 2010 was 3,900 weapons – including 600 BB-guns or replicas.
Critics say the firearms police collect through the turn-in event by and large aren't the most dangerous kinds and may even be decades old and not even functional. But McCarthy says any gun is welcome.
All weapons collected Saturday will be destroyed.
The collection comes as Chicago is drawing attention for gun-related violence. More than a dozen people were wounded this weekend, and a 14-year-old boy was fatally shot Friday night.
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