July 11, 2020

The Editor Speaks: Firearms amnesty


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Tomorrow (Fri June 1) the is launching a firearms amnesty. It will run until the end of the month.

The last RCIPS amnesty was in 2011. It was not a giant success. However, one gun off the streets is a plus that is countered by the hundreds that have appeared since then.

I have to ask the question, do gun amnesties work?

After much research the general consensus is divided.

Australia, in 1996 and 2003 there was not only an amnesty they actually bought back the guns.

Depending upon the sources, one says at a cost of $700 million “research shows these have had no effect in reducing the number of firearm deaths”. The other says, “Look, the statistics can be looked at as lies, damned lies and statistics, but a fair take on those stats, I think, would lead the average Australian to believe, correctly, there has been a reduction in gun deaths in this country.”

The first source was executive director of the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia NSW branch! The other source was a former prime Minister!!

Upon impartial third party analysis it would appear that after the amnesty there has not been a single mass shooting in the country whilst in the 15 years prior to the first gun buyback in 1996 there was 13 mass shootings.

That would seem to be conclusive in the favour of the gun amnesty – right?

No. After the amnesty there was also in effect far more restrictive firearm policies.

Therefore, the answer is probably a combination of both – amnesty and the more restrictive policies. Then there is the big added incentive of a BUY BACK!

It is highly unlikely criminals or gang members are going to hand in their guns and those are the ones we want.

There is a risk that guns not in the hands of criminals pose a risk that one day they might.

In Canada, A 2004 study in the National Academy of Sciences found gun amnesties do not pull in the kinds of guns used in crimes.

“The guns that are typically surrendered are those that are least likely to be used in criminal activities — the guns tend to be old, malfunctioning guns whose resale value is less than the reward offered in buy-back programs, or guns owned by individuals who derive little value from them,” states the report.

, a University of Toronto expert in gun and gang violence, said such amnesties could be more of a public relations move than a real effort to reduce crime.

“I do think a lot of the times, these measures sell well with the public, because it’s an easy, low-risk way for the police to get out there and do something that appears to be aimed at making communities safer.

“I tend to think that the real methods for making communities safer lie in broader systemic changes,” Lee said.

He did not elaborate on that.

Anthony Hutchinson, a Toronto-based street gang expert, said he thinks there is an extremely low likelihood that a gun similar to the ones being collected in the amnesty will be used in a violent crime. “The probability of that is like winning the lottery,” he said.

But Hutchinson said the other view is that getting any gun off the street is a good thing.”

We both agree on that.

Previous gun amnesties have been held in Toronto. Here’s how many guns they picked up:

2005: 260.

2008: 1,900

2013: 500.

How many guns do the RCIPS expect to get handed in?

They haven’t said.

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