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42 guns handed over to police in 1st week of gun amnesty

In just about a week, Hamilton police have collected 42 guns as part of a six-week gun amnesty program aimed at getting weapons off the streets.

Police report 41 firearm thefts during break and enters in 2015 alone

Hamilton Police launched a six-week gun amnesty program on Wednesday. (Kelly Bennett/CBC)

In just about a week, Hamilton police have collected 42 guns as part of a six-week gun amnesty program aimed at getting weapons off the streets.

The amnesty was called after a series of violent shooting incidents in the city, including a shooting in August that left an 18-year-old dead, two shootings earlier this month, and afternoon gunfire in August while children reportedly watched.

One arrest has been made in connection with those incidents.

Police have received 30 long arms and 12 "handgun-style pistol weapons" since the amnesty was announced last Wednesday, Staff Sgt. Paul Evans told CBC News.

Over 500 rounds of ammunition have been turned in too, he added.

Police investigated damage from a bullet that went through a paint store window at Main Street East and East Avenue in May. (David Ritchie)

Long guns sometimes end up used in domestic disputes that don't make the news, Evans said, while handguns are targeted during robberies and are much more commonly used in street crimes.

"A handgun is easier to conceal. For people breaking in to steal firearms, they're looking for handguns," Evans said. "They come across that in a break in and they're not passing up on that."

There have been 41 firearm thefts during break and enters in 2015 alone, police statistics show.

Police last ran a gun amnesty back in 2014, and collected 374 guns. The service's largest haul from a gun amnesty came from back in 2006, when 1,254 guns were turned over.

That number was partly inflated by new gun registry legislation coming into effect a few years earlier, Evans said. One person even turned in 300 guns from his own collection.

During last week's announcement of the amnesty, Police Chief Glenn De Caire said that the police need to do everything they can to "attack the supply of guns."

"Removing unwanted guns will reduce the risk of having firearms stolen from your residence that will eventually then fall into the hands of people who will use the gun for a criminal purpose," he said.

Coun. Matthew Green called for a return of the gun amnesty program and a gun buyback program in May. His colleagues on city council unanimously supported that motion.

The chief said the service will just be conducting the amnesty program and will not be pursuing the buyback incentive that Green has called for.

With files from Kelly Bennett

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