Halifax council to consider gun amnesty program
Gun deaths in the municipality prompt proposal to trade guns for bus tickets
If you had a gun, would you trade it in for 50 bus tickets? That's part of a proposed amnesty program Halifax regional council will consider Tuesday.
The proposal comes following gun violence in the Halifax area this past spring. There have been nine homicides in HRM in 2016 so far — at least five of those killings involved guns.
How it would work
The report said the program would run for two weeks — between Sept. 12 and Sept. 23 — and it would give people the chance to hand over guns and/or ammunition to police without fear of being charged for possession of an unrestricted, restricted or prohibited firearm.
However, the report says police will check all the guns that are turned over to them. If a gun is linked to a crime, there could be charges.
Amnesty just one tool
Tom Martin, a retired Halifax police officer, said an amnesty program is just one of many tools government and police can use to curb gun violence.
"How many bad guys are going to partake in this? The question has to be asked. But again you're not getting at the source," said Martin.
Martin said government needs to connect with communities dealing with gun violence. He said the responsibility to get the ball rolling rests with government.
"We see some of these things, Stop the Violence, I think those programs are great because what it is is the base core groups are young people and it's mostly young people who are falling victims to those violent crimes," he said.
Advantage of program
The report stated that while gun amnesty programs don't directly decrease violence, they do have advantages. For example, any gun turned over to police can't be be stolen and used to commit a crime.
According to the report, Halifax Transit is willing to provide the bus tickets if the program moves forward. The municipality could also seek out other companies willing to donate goods or services as part of the amnesty program.
"I think if they can come up with any incentive, any incentive is worth it. I think a lot of people would do it without any incentive. It's just another way to get people's attention to participate in the program," said Martin.
The municipality had a similar gun amnesty program in 2009 where guns could be traded in for a digital camera and gift card. In that instance police reported 1,074 guns and more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition were turned in during that initiative.