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What happens to thousands of firearms after Rancho Cucamonga steel mill melts them

7,044: total weapons melted 23:
years melting guns at Gerdau Steel Mill in Rancho Cucamonga 3,000 degrees it takes to melt a weapon150 pounds of scrap metal mixed in with the weapons 5 tons of rebar created

July 21, 2016

RANCHO CUCAMONGA >> Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell stood nearby while more than 7,000 confiscated firearms became steel rebar Thursday morning.

"For the second year in a row, I have the privilege of overseeing our annual gun destruction event," McDonnell said. "Today, more than 7,000 firearms will be translated from their potential of destruction into the certainty of construction."

The sheriff's department held its 23rd annual "Gun Melt" at Rancho Cucamonga's Gerdau Steel Mill, destroying 7,044 firearms seized from criminal investigations as well as guns turned in by L.A. County residents during buy-back programs.

The number included weapons confiscated by or turned in to the Beverly Hills and El Monte police departments, as well firearms no longer needed as evidence in Los Angeles Superior Court cases.

"Every gun, every rifle, every semi-automatic weapon that you see behind me will not fall into the hands of a mentally unstable person, a criminal on our streets or anyone else who may wish to do us harm," said U.S. Rep. Norma Torres, D-Pomona, who attended the event.

Gerdau Steel Mill donates its furnace, equipment and employees to convert the weapons into steel rebar for use in local highways and bridges.

California has the second highest demand for rebar in the nation, according to Kimberly Selph, a Gerdau spokeswoman.

With this year's gun melt, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and Gerdau will have destroyed more than 180,000 firearms over the past 23 years, according to a sheriff's news release.

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