Cops waited. TV crews waited. And church officials standing under the broiling sun in South Los Angeles waited, hoping Angelenos would come and surrender their guns. They got only one — but it was an SSK assault rifle, along with enough ammunition to blow away 59 bystanders. “You would not believe what we got,” exclaimed LAPD Officer Brian Hun of the Southwest Division. “It’s like catching the big one.” With the 15th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots approaching, ministers from the First AME Church asked residents to hand in their guns during a commemorative Weekend of Peace. The region — with four homicides, 23 people shot and 40 gunfire reports in the Southwest Division between March 25 and April 21 — is among the most violent in the city. It’s also among the poorest, with few new jobs created. For this reason, First AME hosted a gun-surrender program coupled with a massive job fair and food giveaway. “Turn in your piece for peace,” said the Rev. John Joseph Hunter, senior pastor of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church. “Violence is something that plagues (this) community. “With a job, dignity is restored.” Los Angeles is often described as a city divided between haves and have-nots. But for some, it’s a city split between those who have guns and those who haven’t. Few expected those with “dirty guns” — or weapons used during a crime — to turn them in. And few expected those whose guns remain the final bastion behind steel security doors to hand over their protection. “People want to protect themselves; that’s why they have guns,” said Amelia Quinn, 39, of Los Angeles, a seeker at the job fair. “If somebody steps in your house, shoot on sight.” Today, First AME will host a Dialogues in Peace forum to discuss race relations, education and the economy since 1992. “You haven’t changed the conditions, the mind-sets, the hearts,” Hunter said. “You’ve gotta offer hope. A job offers hope.” To thwart gun violence, the Rev. Eduardo Vickers said, society must convince the young. “Get them while the clay is soft — you’ve got to mold them,” he said, watching residents line up half a block for food. “The key is love, what the world needs is love, more love.” But for Los Angeles police, what the world needs is fewer guns. The Chinese-made SSK assault rifle with two, 30-round banana clips was dropped off by a dad whose son had long ago left it at his house. It was the only gun relinquished in three hours of waiting. “If we can take one gun off the street, it’s worth it,” said Hun, a senior lead officer for the area. “If a gangster wanted to do a drive-by, it’s the ultimate weapon.” — Dana Bartholomew, (818) firstname.lastname@example.org 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!