California melts five tons of guns to help mend highways and bridges

In an echo of the Biblical vision of beating swords into ploughshares, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in California said this week it would melt approximately 3,400 confiscated firearms and use the steel as concrete reinforcement.

The weapons will be melted into steel reinforcing bar, better known as ‘rebar,’ and transformed into elements of construction for upgrades in freeways and bridges in Arizona, California and Nevada. 

In all, 5.25 tons of guns will be melted this year in the annual event that goes beyond the call of duty set out in the California Penal Code, which says weapons unable to be sold to the public or returned to their owners must be destroyed.

"This activity transforms weapons that were intended or used to inflict harm into a product that improves our landscape and economy in Southern California," said Mark Olson, general manager at the Gerdau Steel Mill in Rancho Cucamonga, which donates its furnaces for the purpose.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell announcing the annual gun-melt on 6 July (Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department)

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Works also donates the trucks every year which transport the weapons to the mill.

As well as the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, ten other police agencies in the state contributed confiscated weapons to the annual gun-melt.

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