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Gun Owners Trade Weapons for Toys

December 25, 1993

NEW YORK (AP) _ Gun owners in a Christmas mood turned in their firearms in exchange for $100 gift certificates to Toys ″R″ Us, handing over everything from revolvers to a James Bond-style single-shot weapon shaped like a pen.

By late Christmas Eve, nearly 250 guns had been turned in at the police precinct running the program in Manhattan’s crime-ridden Washington Heights.

″It’s the miracle at the 34th Precinct, it truly is,″ said Inspector Lawrence Loesch, a department spokesman.

Carpet-store owner Fernando Mateo started the toys-for-guns swap earlier this week by providing $5,000 worth of certificates, which soon ran out.

Two anonymous donors gave $10,000 more, and three Toys ″R″ Us executives put up $10,000 of their own money.

″Altogether, we have $25,000 for a total of 250 guns,″ Loesch said. ″That may not sound like a lot, but if it saves even one life, that’s pretty cheap.″

The weapons turned in included rifles and submachine guns. A youngster brought in a semiautomatic Uzi.

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