Buying Back Unwanted Guns

In the next three weeks, Toronto residents can rid themselves of unwanted guns and have them picked up by a police officer.

In return, they will be compensated with $200 for a long gun and $350 for a handgun. Toronto residents who turn over guns to police for destruction will not face a charge for possession or unsafe storage of a firearm.

The gun buyback initiative was announced at a press conference at police headquarters on April 26.

“This is a great opportunity for Torontonians to get rid of unwanted guns from their homes that present a potential danger if they fall into the wrong hands,” said Chief Mark Saunders. “These guns can be stolen in a break and enter and sold on the streets.”

The Service and the City is collaborating on the initiative that runs up until May 17.

“It’s a good day when we, the Toronto Police Service and the City of Toronto, can work together to make a difference that will help us work towards safer streets and communities for everyone in Toronto,” said Saunders. “It doesn’t happen overnight, but initiatives such as our Neighbourhood Officer pilot have proven to make a difference because they engage community members directly in a two-way dialogue. It helps all sides get to know each other, and it helps to build trust and relationships between communities and the police.

“The Gun Buyback program is one more of those initiatives where both the police and the public are engaged in a common goal and are taking steps to make their streets safer by removing unwanted hand and long guns.”

A poster with text: reducing the number of guns is in everyone's best interest
Toronto residents can call 416-808-2222 to turn over a gun to police for compensation from April 26 to May 17, 2019 Photo: Kevin Masterman

Last July, Toronto City Council adopted the Immediate Steps to Address Gun Violence Report that included a Council decision to establish a gun buyback program. The City is funding the program.

Mayor John Tory, attended the news conference to lend his support, said gun violence remains a serious concern for the community and law enforcement.

“We know ending gun violence will take a variety of measures as there’s no one magic answer,” he said. “Every gun surrendered is one less in our community. It’s one less gun potentially available to people who want to cause mayhem in our city.

“…The message is simple. Give up your guns. To anybody who has one, this is an opportunity to work with the police and to do it, I think, in the most favourable kind of circumstance to get it of houses where they might be and off the street. It is better not to have them for people who might have them today, sometimes inadvertently and sometimes deliberately.”

Once the guns are turned in, Toronto Police will test them to see if they were involved in criminal activity. The firearms will then be destroyed.

Residents are reminded not to take their firearms to a police station or city facility. They can call the non-emergency line at 416-808-2222 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. and an officer will attend the address and safety retrieve the weapons.

In exchange, they will be issued a property receipt for the payment that could take between six to eight weeks.

Insp. Chris Boddy asked citizens to be patient after they call police to pick up their guns.

“It may take us a little while to get to your address,” he said. “In the meantime, leave your firearm where it is secured in your house until police arrive to make sure everything is safe.”

There have been several gun buyback program in the past 11 years. In 2015, a buyback program with no incentive netted 150 firearms. When Henry's Camera and Olympus gave the incentive of a camera for a gun there were 500 guns surrendered in 2013 and in 2008, nearly 2,000 guns.

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