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Sask. to roll out province-wide gun amnesty program

Click to play video: 'Sask. to roll out province-wide gun amnesty program' Sask. to roll out province-wide gun amnesty program
"We don't want to take the firearms that are used for a purpose for hunting and things like that," Regina Police Service deputy Chief Dean Rae said Monday. "We're taking the ones that people no longer want." – Mar 26, 2018

Police across Saskatchewan are calling on people to turn in unwanted guns as part of a month-long gun amnesty.

The Saskatchewan Association of Chiefs of Police is encouraging people to hand over their guns to local law enforcement agencies so the firearms can be destroyed.

“We don’t want to take the firearms that are used for a purpose for hunting and things like that,” Regina Police Service deputy Chief Dean Rae said Monday. “We’re taking the ones that people no longer want.”

Moose Jaw police Chief Rick Bourassa said there were more than 1,000 cases of unlawful firearm use in Saskatchewan between 2012 and 2016.

READ MORE: Gun crimes up in Regina in 2016: police stats

RCMP assistant commissioner Curtis Zablocki said Saskatchewan has some of the highest rates of adult and youth accused of firearm-related offences. Firearm-related crime has been increasing since 2013, he added.

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“What we hope to see from it is, in the end, safer communities,” Zablocki said. “Sometimes these unwanted firearms and ammunition fall into the hands of people who should not have them. Ultimately, the incentive is to have safer communities in the province.”

All three mentioned that it was unlikely they would see criminals turning in their guns, but that it would help in another manner; giving criminals less targets. They said these weapons are often stolen from rural communities and used to commit crimes in cities.

“We know going into the rural communities, that a lot of people have shotguns, or 22’s for the purposes, sometimes for pest control, or for hunting reasons, those are the weapons that tend to get stolen more often than not,” Rae said.

The program, which runs from March 29 to April 27, is similar to a gun amnesty offered by the Regina Police Service last year. Regina police took in 157 firearms over the course of two weeks in an amnesty modelled after one in British Columbia. Among those 157 firearms there were 25 restricted/prohibited weapons that were destroyed, something the Canadian Firearms Program was happy to see.

READ MORE: Regina police collect 157 firearms during 2 week gun amnesty

“When those firearms can come off the street, that’s really important for us to see them come off the street, so that people are in legal ownership, and not getting themselves in a situation where they’re in possession of something they can’t own,” Cameron Smith, an operations manager for the Canadian Firearms Program said.

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Restricted firearms required a special, more advanced license to carry, and prohibited weapons are illegal to own, the only exceptions are those who have been grandfathered in. Smith says people who own unwanted guns but aren’t licensed have a reasonable amount of time to possess the weapon before they either sell the gun, dispose of it, or become licensed.

Police said they aren’t aiming for a specific number of weapons and will look at making the amnesty an annual event depending on its success this year.

With files from the Canadian Press

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