During a press conference on Thursday at the Gerdau steel mill in Rancho Cucamonga, Chief Eric Parra announced the destruction of 3,566 weapons confiscated within in Los Angeles County. This event comes typically in July, in compliance with California Penal Code 18005(c), which calls for weapons unable to be sold to the public or returned to their owners, to be destroyed.
The weapons disposed of Thursday will be repurposed for tomorrow’s good: Melted into steel reinforcing bar, widely known as rebar, and transformed into elements of construction for upgrades in freeways and bridges in Arizona, California, and Nevada. Thousands of pounds of metal were processed in the Gerdau Melt Shop at an intense 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit and remolded into new shapes for upgrading local roads, highways, and bridges. The weapons included handguns, rifles and automatic weapons collected in criminal investigations and probation seizures, and guns turned in by citizens.
For the past 25 years, Gerdau Steel Mill generously donated its furnace, equipment, and personnel to convert these weapons into steel rebar. Their cooperation in recycling the metal proved invaluable in allowing the Department to comply with its annual duty. With this year’s destruction event, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Gerdau will have destroyed approximately 170,000 firearms over the past quarter-century.
The Gerdau Rancho Cucamonga Mill recycles more than 440,000 tons of scrap metal annually, diverting waste which would, otherwise, end up in local landfills or be sent overseas. With 275 steelworkers, the mill is the only full-production steel mill operating in California, and one of the greenest in the nation, with 95% of the scrap metal coming from within a 75-mile radius.
Integral to the destruction event’s success, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works also donated the use of its dump trucks to transport the weapons to the mill. Minutes before the press conference, operators tipped the truck beds backward and deposited a haul of arms onto the Gerdau courtyard. The noise of the metal and wood falling onto the asphalt was almost deafening, and the mountain of arms provided a dramatic backdrop to the event.
Chief Eric Parra thanked Gerdau for their commitment to ensuring the annual destruction event takes place and for the mill’s seamless transition of metal to molten material for the last 25 years. He also remembered the importance of how the weapons were attained, “Each illegal weapon removed from our streets significantly influences the community and citizens we serve,” said Chief Eric Parra. “I commend law enforcement officers all over Los Angeles County for their diligence and hard work; it is their efforts which act as an impactful deterrent against senseless acts of violence and saves lives.”
Chris Irving, Gerdau’s Vice President West Coast Operations, said the Rancho Cucamonga mill is proud to donate the use of its furnace, equipment, and personnel for the annual weapons destruction event. “For the past 25 years, Gerdau has proudly supported the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and dozens of other law enforcement agencies in their mission to keep our communities and the public safe,” Alexander said. “As California’s largest recycler, Gerdau is committed to promoting safety at our steel mill and in our community, and our continuing partnership with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reflects that principle.”
This year, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and twelve participating agencies contributed confiscated weapons to the annual destruction event: Los Angeles Superior Court, Police & College Safety-Pasadena City College, United States Department of Homeland Security, and the Bell, Bell Gardens, Beverly Hills, La Verne, Long Beach, Pasadena, San Marino, South Pasadena, and University of California Los Angeles Police Departments.