Almost 360 guns off streets because of amnesty
The Toronto Police Service displayed some of the firearms turned in under the "Pixels for Pistols" program.
Almost 360 guns of various types -- along with more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition -- have been turned in under the program, which began on Oct. 22 and runs for four weeks.
"It's been a great success ... any day the police can get a firearm off the streets of Toronto, it's a good day," Sgt. Chris Boddy told a news conference on Thursday.
Those who turn in a firearm, either legal or illegal, is to be rewarded with a digital camera and photography lessons courtesy of Henry's photo store.
"We've received everything from handguns, revolvers, assault rifles -- a real cross-section of firearms," Boddy said.
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair said in a statement issued Wednesday that 70 per cent of firearms used in Toronto crimes, but another 30 per cent have been "either stolen or otherwise obtained from legal gun owners in Canada."
He urged legal gun owners to follow the law and store their firearms securely, and to be discrete about their gun ownership and the location of their firearms.
"We also know many people have firearms they no longer want. They may have obtained them years ago, or inherited them from a parent, and do not know what to do with them. They may be concerned because the weapons are not registered properly and they fear they could get into trouble if they try to turn them over to the police for disposal," Blair said.
"We also know some people may be uncertain on how to dispose of unwanted firearms safely. Others, aware that the weapon may have some value, are reluctant to part with it, even though they have no practical use. They cannot sell the weapon but would like something of value in return."
That led to the creation of the amnesty program with Henry's, he said.
"The camera incentive obviously helps, but we're in a time right now where we really have a mobilized community. People understand that their homes are not a place for firearms," Boddy said.
Those who wish to turn in a firearm can call the police at 416-808-2222 to arrange for its pickup by an officer.
Blair stressed that the program is an amnesty, so people don't need to worry if the weapon is properly registered.
"We don't expect criminals will surrender their firearms. They are not the target of our amnesty. Our goal is to reduce the number of guns in this city which could fall into the hands of criminals, guns which are almost certainly in the hands of law-abiding citizens."
There is this fine print to the offer: "Although this amnesty provides limited immunity to certain possession offences it does not include any other offences that may be connected to a particular firearm or individual. Firearms suspected as crime guns will be investigated thoroughly including Centre of Forensic Sciences ballistics testing, serial number restoration if obliterated and a trace of the origin of the firearm will be conducted."
Toronto has tried gun amnesties before. In 2000, one collected more than 1,500 weapons. In 2005, another 261 were taken off the streets.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Jim Junkin