CATHEDRAL CITY — In an effort to reduce the number of unwanted firearms in the community, the Cathedral City Police Department will hold an Anonymous Gun Buyback program on Saturday, Dec. 22.

Police Chief Travis Walker in July proposed a “Gift for Guns” program to help rid the city of pistols, rifles, assault weapons, and more to reduce the potential for these weapons to cycle through illegal networks or end up as potential hazards in homes.

The Anonymous Gun Buyback will provide individuals who turn in unwanted firearms with gift cards to local businesses.

“The Cathedral City Gun Buyback Program will reward the voluntary surrender of firearms, while engaging our community towards a common goal of reducing gun violence,” Commander Paul Herrera said in a prepared statement. “It is an anonymous process in which individuals can surrender their weapons, no questions asked.”

Guns can be exchanged for gift cards between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Weapons should be unloaded and transported in the trunk or rear area of the vehicle. There is no limit to the number of firearms that can be turned in by individuals. Those relinquishing their firearms will receive a $50 gift card for inoperable firearms, up to $100 in gift cards for handguns, $150 for shotguns and rifles, and up to $200 in gift cards for assault weapons (as classified in the State of California). All gift cards are for local businesses.

Once a firearm is surrendered to the Gun Buyback Program it becomes property of the Cathedral City Police Department and will not be returned. Cathedral City Police officers will take each gun, verify serial numbers to determine ownership – or if a gun is stolen.

Stolen guns will be returned to their owners. The remaining guns will be checked in as property at the Police Department and scheduled for destruction.

The firearms recovered will ultimately be melted down and turned into steel rebar; the rebar is used for a variety of construction projects.

“It is our desire to see the … program help ensure that we help provide the means for members of our community to safely dispose of their unwanted firearms, while receiving a monetary reward for doing so,” Walker said. “The ultimate removal of these firearms will help prevent them from ending up in the hands of the criminal element.”

Mayor Stan Henry, who served as Chief of Police in Cathedral City from 1995 to 2010, said he did something similar to the buyback program and referred to Walker’s effort as a “great idea.”

“Any opportunity to get guns off the streets is good,” Henry told Uken Report.

The program affords an opportunity to the elderly and those who have had guns around their residences for years and no longer want them to get finally rid of them, Henry said. Some perhaps simply do not know what to do with them.

The Anonymous Gun Buyback program is being held against the backdrop of increased frequency of mass shootings in the United States.

The popular buyback programs really do collect guns. Depending on where they are held, they can average about 30 guns per event. In metropolitan areas like Los Angeles and Seattle, the programs have fetched 2,000 or more guns in a single day.

According to the Congressional Research Service, there are roughly twice as many guns per capita in the United States as there were in 1968: more than 300 million guns, just shy of being enough to arm every man, woman and child in the country.

The United States is the world’s leader in gun-related deaths. In December, the CDC published data showing 38,658 gun deaths for 2016, including suicides. The number of gun deaths recorded by CDC researchers has increased for two consecutive years.

Those that plan to participate in the buyback program should remain in their vehicle and follow signage around the Civic Center that will direct them to the appropriate area. Police employees will be at the location to assist with directions and information.