Have a gun you want to get rid of, but you don’t know where to turn? Hamilton police want to take it off your hands.
The service is running a gun amnesty program for the month of April. That means officers will come collect your unwanted guns with few questions asked.
It’s surprising how many residents have guns they want to get rid of, said Deputy Chief Ken Leenderste. Often, they’ve been handed down to someone with no interest in gun ownership, or inherited as part of an estate.
In 2006, a gun amnesty month netted 1,254 unwanted firearms and tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition.
“We had machine guns,” he said. “We found an old weapon from the War of 1812 that we turned over to a museum. We had all kinds of different handguns, assault weapons, an AK-47.
“We also found a lot of war memorials and Lugers from the German army. There’s a real collection.”
Police have an interest in destroying unwanted guns, said Chief Glenn De Caire. Gun owners have reported 99 guns stolen in Hamilton in the last two years.
The program, entitled Spring Clean Up 2014 — Firearms Amnesty Program — runs from April 7 to May 2.
While police don’t ask a lot of questions, they do check if a weapon has been used in a crime, Leenderste said.
After residents used methods such as public transit to transport guns in 2006, police are now asking gun owners to call to arrange for safe pick-up.
Unique or antique guns will be preserved, but most of the guns collected will be destroyed.
De Caire presented a report on the gun amnesty at a police services board meeting on Monday.
He also reported that he headed up a Hamilton working group on the ability to suspend officers without pay.
The Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) is pushing the government to give chiefs the ability to suspend without pay when officers have committed criminal acts. De Caire's group also recommended suspension without pay for serious Police Services Act charges, and is advising the OACP to include that in its efforts.
Suspension without pay has been an issue in Hamilton. Most recently, Sgt. Derek Mellor pleaded guilty to nine Police Services Act charges related to sexual interactions with witnesses and prostitutes. He is suspended with pay.
Last year, Inspector David Doel retired in the midst of a misconduct hearing related to 14 Police Services Act charges. He was suspended with pay for four years and retired in the middle of the hearing.