COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Police in South Carolina gave away roses
on Valentine's Day. All you had to do to get one for your sweetie
was turn in a gun.
Hoping to get the weapons off the streets with the "Guns for
Roses" program, authorities in two central South Carolina cities
set up a program where anyone who turned in a gun received a free
rose and a Best Buy gift card.
At a Columbia church, five cars lined up to give away guns
before the exchange had even started. At the end of the day,
Columbia area police had collected 191 weapons and police in Sumter
"We've got a great turnout so far," Richland County sheriff's
spokesman Lt. Chris Cowan said.
A handgun was worth a $100 gift card, while a rifle or shotgun
netted a $50 gift certificate. Cowan said one man turned in six
handguns, worth $600 in gift cards.
Cowan did not immediately have a total value for gift cards
given out. Sumter Police Chief Patty Patterson said her program
gave out $550 in gift cards for long guns and $2,100 for handguns.
There was no amnesty for those turning in the guns. The weapons
were being checked to see if they were stolen, names and addresses
were jotted down and ballistics tests would also be done to see if
the firearm was used in a crime.
Both Cowan and Patterson said there were no incidents and no
arrests made Saturday.
Cowan said the idea was spawned in part by Columbia Police Chief
T.P. Carter and Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, who has made
headlines recently for investigating Michael Phelps after a photo
surfaced showing the Olympic swimming champion smoking a marijuana
pipe. The program was modeled after a California one; similar
exchanges have been done in New York and San Francisco.
Cowan said gun donors were young and old, men and woman. Many
had a big smile and some said it was a relief to get rid of the
And did they even care about the rose?
"Most of them have taken it," Cowan said.
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