When it comes to suitable things to throw in the household trash bin, a number of items come to mind that aren’t compatible — batteries for one, as well as old radios, alarm clocks or televisions.
But another item, one much more dangerous, is also a hazard if disposed of improperly — and that’s firearms.
That’s why the Prince Rupert RCMP and police forces province-wide are asking the public to get rid of their unwanted or unneeded guns and ammunition responsibly through the 2016 B.C. Gun Amnesty program, running from Oct. 1 – 31.
“This gun amnesty provides the public a safe opportunity to dispose of weapons, imitation weapons, related equipment and ammunition, which they are not legally entitled to own, or do not want,” said Prince Rupert RCMP media relations officer Sgt. Jagdev Uppal in a news release late September. “This gun amnesty also reduces the number of firearms in Prince Rupert while eliminating the risk of them being part of a tragic and unfortunate circumstance.”
RCMP members will visit residences when notified of an unwanted or unregistered firearm and collect the gun and associated equipment. The officers state that they don’t want the public bringing the equipment to them on their own for safety reasons.
The vast majority of guns claimed by RCMP in this manner are destroyed, with some remaining for training or educational purposes by the department. The amnesty program is meant to remove unwanted firearms from public use that might pose a threat should any be stolen in a breaking and entering crime and used further.
Residents will be asked further details when handing in a gun. Two previous B.C. gun amnesties have taken place in the past – once in 2006 and again in 2013. Five-thousand firearms have been claimed by police in this way, including 900 handguns, two machine guns and 127,500 rounds of ammunition.
A rocket launcher, military missile, historic rifles and antique bayonets have also been collected.
In Prince Rupert, Sgt. Dave Uppal confirmed that in 2013, three handguns, six rifles, three shotguns and two air soft guns were turned in, along with three files opened for ammo that were also submitted.
A new Illegal Firearms Task Force has been created by the province, with a budget of $200,000 to examine current legislation, identify gaps and needs to combat illegal possession and use of guns and to develop a report with key findings.
“The use of illegal firearms to commit murders, attempted murders, home invasions and other violent acts is a serious public safety issue in British Columbia and one this government has been working to address through the provincial Guns and Gangs Strategy … I look forward to reviewing the report and recommendations from the task force this spring,” said Mike Morris, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General.