LONG BEACH : Groceries-for-Guns Program Scaled Back

A groceries-for-guns exchange program that sponsors hoped would remove more than 400 firearms from city homes this month has been scaled back, apparently because of a lack of participation from businesses.

Originally slated to take place at churches throughout Long Beach during the weekends this month, the exchange will be only at the Gospel Memorial Church, 1480 Atlantic Ave., from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

The first 50 people who turn in a gun to uniformed police reserve officers will receive a $100 Ralph's grocery certificate. Nobody will be asked where the guns came from, and certificates will be limited to one per family, officials said.

Sponsors of the exchange, which include the city and a coalition of local churches and community groups, had tried to get $40,000 in certificates. Ralph's is the only business participating.

"We had hoped that various companies would take a greater interest in this," said Tom Poe, spokesman for Mayor Ernie Kell. Kell introduced the "Goods for Guns" trade in early April.

Poe said some supermarket officials told him they were concerned about appearing to favor one program over another. "They didn't want to pick and choose," he said.

Similar programs throughout the country in recent months exchanged guns for concert tickets in Los Angeles, toys in New York and carwashes and Mighty Ducks hockey tickets in Orange County.

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