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'Pixels for pistols' hopes to lure guns off street
The city has unveiled its latest effort to woo people to turn in unwanted guns -- "Pixels for pistols."
Those who turn in a firearm, either legal or illegal, to police will be rewarded with a digital camera courtesy of Henry's photo store.
- Talkback Toronto - Will 'pixels for pistols' get guns off the street?
"We have, particularly over the last several months, seen an increase in gun violence on our streets," Police Chief Bill Blair told a news conference on Wednesday.
"And we know that the availability of guns represents a serious danger to all of our citizens."
Coincidentally, the trial of one man accused of murder in the Boxing Day 2005 shooting death of teenager Jane Creba was hearing evidence as Blair spoke.
Blair said honest, law-abiding firearms owners don't represent a danger, "but their weapons do."
Former Ontario chief justice Roy McMurtry, who chairs a panel for Mayor David Miller on making Toronto safer, urged legitimate gun owners to also surrender unwanted weapons.
"A significant number of firearms used enact gun violence in Toronto every year are traced to legal Canadian gun owners," he said. "Legal gun owners can help make Toronto a safer place by participating in this gun amnesty and I urge them to do so."
Some estimates suggest that 30 per cent of the illegal handguns on Toronto streets have been stolen from legitimate owners.
Music promoter and Canadian Idol judge Farley Flex said the lifestyle perspective of at-risk young people must be shifted from all forms of violence to one "that involves productive, rewarding behaviour through photography, videography et cetera."
Police want prospective participants to contact them first by calling (416) 808-2222 and then they will pick the gun up between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
The person will get a gift certificate for a Nikon digital camera -- either a Coolpix P-60 for a rifle or shotgun, retail value $189.99; or Coolpix S-52 for an assault rifle or pistol, retail value $229.99 -- and photography lessons from Henry's.
"A gun amnesty that rewards people who work with Toronto Police Services to remove the guns off the street allows the opportunity for people to focus on activities that create memories rather than end them," said Andrew Stein of Henry's.
"Our passion for photography and the belief that it enhances people's quality of life is the reason that we're here to support this program."
The program runs for four weeks from Wednesday. The offer is only open to residents of Toronto.
There is this fine print: "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