1,000 guns turned in during B.C. amnesty

More than 1,000 guns are off the streets after a province-wide gun amnesty allowed people to turn in their firearms, no questions asked.

The province, the RCMP and municipal departments are to announce the results of the October gun amnesty at a press conference today in Surrey. Central Saanich Police Chief Les Sylven, president of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police, said Wednesday that more than 1,000 firearms had been turned in.

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Nanaimo RCMP recovered 44 firearms and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, said Const. Gary O’Brien.

About half of the firearms were handguns. The rest were rifles and shotguns.

In one case, officers were called to a home in north Nanaimo after 13 firearms were found hidden in a desk, O’Brien said.

The man told police some furniture was left behind when he bought the home several years ago. He discovered a hidden compartment in a desk containing 30- to 40-year-old Berettas, Mausers and Colts. Police said the firearms were unloaded.

Police will check the serial numbers to ensure they were not used in any illegal activity.

The majority of people who turned in firearms did not want them in their home because they no longer hunt or have any use for them.

“Some simply did not feel comfortable knowing there were firearms in their homes that could be stolen and later used in criminal activity,” O’Brien said.

Saanich police said about 25 firearms were turned in. Victoria police collected five firearms and Oak Bay police took in six.

The gun amnesty allowed anyone with a gun, replica firearm or ammunition to hand it in to police without fear of prosecution as long as the weapon had not been used in a criminal offence. Police departments reminded people not to walk into police stations with guns in hand, but to instead let officers come and collect them.

“Removing unwanted firearms from our community ensures they are kept out of the hands of criminals and goes towards keeping our homes and streets safe,” O’Brien said.

All of the firearms turned in will be destroyed, unless they are found to be linked to an offence.

The last month-long gun amnesty in 2013 resulted in the return of 1,801 firearms, 155 other weapons and approximately 30,700 rounds of ammunition.

kderosa@timescolonist.com

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