Toronto Police retrieved nearly 2,200 long guns and 900 handguns during a three-week gun buyback program.
This was the largest buyback with similar ones netting 2,000 in 2008 and 500 in return for cameras in 2013. In 2015, a program with no compensation led to the collection of 150 firearms.
In the latest program, Torontonians were compensated with $200 for a long gun and $350 for a handgun. Residents who turned over guns to police for destruction will not face a charge for possession or unsafe storage of a firearm.
Among the collection was two Uzis, a sawed-off shot gun as well as many prohibited short-barreled handguns that can be easily concealed.
“What we heard when we got to the doors is that many people had no use for the weapons or had inherited them and had no idea how to get rid of them,” Chief Mark Saunders said at a news conference at police headquarters on June 20. “This is a great outlet for the public to get rid of unwanted guns that may pose a risk because they are improperly stored and otherwise neglected. They can fall into the wrong hands through theft and be sold on the street.”
Saunders said that the program will not solve gun crime in the city but part of a larger strategy to reduce the supply of guns available to criminals.
“Each day, our men and women pull guns off the street through keen investigative skills and help from the public,” he said. “We develop intelligence and go after networks of gun suppliers and those who use guns to profit through criminal activities. We use all means possible to prevent further violence.”
Insp. Chris Boddy said the response to the three-week program was overwhelming.
“We will be reaching out to people over the next month with letters to inform them how they can receive their compensation which will be in the form of prepaid credit cards,” he said. “We ask them to be patient and to know that they have made a contribution to public safety.”
Though the compensation program has ended, Boddy is reminding the public that they can continue to rely on the Toronto Police Service to get rid of their unwanted firearms.
They can call the man line at 416-808-2222 to arrange for pick-up.
“However, we also remind people to let police officers come to them and to never bring a firearm to a police facility,” he pointed out. “And if you do own firearms, please store them safely and securely. It can mean the difference between life and death.”
Boody said police were called to collect air rifles and 2,200 pounds of ammunition knowing there is no compensation for them.
He commended officers for responding to the hundreds of calls to pick up firearms, Property Evidence Management staff who are sorting through the weapons, the Integrated Gun & Gang Task Force whose members are doing the testing and the Finance & Budget personnel who are preparing the compensation.