Residents who turn over a firearm to police will be eligible for a payment of up to $350 as part of a gun buyback program announced on Friday.

The program, which runs through May 17, was part of a number of initiatives aimed at addressing gun violence that were approved by city council following a deadly shooting in the city’s Greektown neighbourhood last summer.

Under the terms of the program, residents wishing to surrender a firearm can contact police and have an officer attend their home to pick it up.

Members of the Guns and Gangs unit will then inspect the firearm to ensure that it has not been used in any previous crimes.

Assuming that the gun is clean the resident who surrendered it can then expect to receive a prepaid credit card with their compensation within four to six weeks, police say. The value of the compensation will be $350 per handgun and $200 per long gun.

“A lot of people do not want these guns and because they do not understand (the risk) they put them either in their kitchen cupboard or somewhere else that is every insecure. What we are doing is reducing the opportunity for that firearm to get out on the streets,” Police Chief Mark Saunders said during a news conference at police headquarters on College Street on Friday.

Police hope to collect hundreds of firearms

Police held their first gun buyback program in 2008 when nearly 2,000 firearms were handed over, including 500 handguns.

They then held another campaign in 2013, collecting about 500 firearms.

Speaking with reporters during Friday’s news conference, Mayor John Tory conceded that the program is not a “be all and end all” solution to gun violence but he said that he believes it can make a difference.

“The bottom line is this: one gun surrendered is one less gun that is out there somewhere in our community. It is one less gun that is in somebody’s home subject to being taken, that is on the streets in some way or is just out there available to people who would do bad things with those guns,” he said.

Tory, who has previously called for a ban on the private ownerships of handguns, said that he continues to wonder “why anybody in the City of Toronto needs to have a handgun.”

He said that he sees the gun buyback program as “one more way to get handguns out of the city.”

“If this helps get one of those guns that is sitting in a drawer with some ammunition beside it out of a house and out of the potential that it could fall into the wrong hands then I think that is a great positive step forward,” he said.

Tory said that the gun buyback program is expected to cost several hundred thousand dollars.