More than 2,700 firearms were collected over the course of a three-week gun buyback program, making it the most successful initiative of its kind in Toronto police history.
The program, which ran from April 26 until May 17, was among a raft of initiatives aimed at addressing gun violence that were approved by city council in the wake of last summer’s deadly shooting on the Danforth.
Police say that they collected more than 2,700 “unwanted guns” for destruction during the initiative, including more than 800 handguns.
That total easily tops the 2,000 guns that were collected during a 2008 buyback program and the 500 guns collected during a similar program in 2013.
"We are pleased with the participation of Torontonians taking steps to safely dispose of unwanted guns in their homes. These guns can present a potential danger if they fall into the wrong hands," Police Chief Mark Saunders said in a press release that was issued on Saturday morning. "Removing access to these guns, many of which are not securely stored, contributes to community safety.”
Residents who participated in the gun buyback program were given $350 for every handgun they turned over and $200 for every long gun.
Though the total cost of the program is not known, city council previously voted to set aside $750,000 to pay for it. That money included $50,000 for non-compensation costs, such as transporting and processing the collected firearms, destroying them and promoting the campaign.
"Gun violence remains a serious concern for both the community and law enforcement. We know ending gun violence will take a variety of measures – there is no one magic answer," Mayor John Tory said in the press release issued Saturday morning. "Every gun surrendered is one less gun in our community and one less gun potentially available to people who want to cause problems in our city."
All residents who turned over firearms during the gun buyback program were given amnesty for any charges related to the illegal possession of the weapons or the improper storage of them.