OAKLAND -- The tally from Saturday's gun buyback in Oakland and San Francisco: 349 handguns, 149 rifles, 92 shotguns and another six guns that owners handed over without even waiting for their $200 payment.
All told, nearly 600 guns -- from vintage World War rifles to modern day assault weapons -- are now in storage waiting to be melted down and turned into light posts, park benches and stop signs.
Leaders in both cities called it their most successful buyback to date.
"This was our largest gun buyback," said Oakland police Chief Howard Jordan. "In June, I think we got 47."
In exchange for $200 cash, Oakland collected 300 guns, while San Francisco police collected 296 guns during the buyback. The weapons collected by Oakland police included handguns, three assault rifles, a rifle with a bayonet attached to it and a 3-inch Derringer pocket pistol. San Francisco collected a similar array of weapons.
City money did not fund the Saturday buyback. The program was funded by nonprofit groups and a $100,000 donation from Keith Stephenson, who runs Purple Heart Patient Center, a medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland.
Before the guns are melted down, each weapon will be logged into a database and checked to see if it is linked to a crime, police said.
The buybacks, held at St. Benedict's Church in Oakland and the Omega Boys Club in San Francisco, were planned long before Friday's mass killing at a Connecticut elementary
Police said the mass killing might have spurred a few more people to turn in their guns.
San Francisco police Sgt. Hector Jusino Jr. said one older woman told him that after watching the news about the Connecticut shooting, she spotted a long-forgotten shotgun in her closet and decided to get rid of it. Many people clearly had the same idea.
The buyback line in Oakland was, at one point, eight blocks long with gun owners waiting up to 4½ hours to turn in firearms. Roughly 80 people in Oakland were turned away when the event ended, but organizers made arrangements for buybacks later this week, police said. San Francisco did not turn anyone away, and some people waited more than six hours to sell their guns, Jusino said.
For the first time, representatives from the Boys & Girls Clubs and Youth UpRising in Oakland partnered with the police to check gun owners' identification Saturday to ensure that only Oakland and San Francisco residents received cash for their guns, in an attempt to avoid problems with past buyback programs.
In 2008, then-state Sen. Don Perata backed a program offering $250 for each working gun turned in, no questions asked. Gun dealers from out of state flocked to Oakland to dump useless antiques and other weapons they could not sell, defeating the buyback's intent.
Oakland police spokeswoman Officer Johnna Watson said there will be another buyback, but a date has not been chosen.
While lauding the success of the buyback program, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan pointed out that Oakland, San Jose and San Francisco are all outpacing homicides this year compared to last year.
"It's still easier to buy a gun on the street than it is to get health care," she said.