A month-long police initiative offering a new digital camera to any Winnipegger who hands over a working firearm is a misfire, according to the president of the Manitoba Wildlife Federation.
“There’s zero target towards the criminals on something like this,” Reid Woods told Metro Thursday, following the launch of the force’s Pixels for Pistols campaign. “The gang bangers aren’t turning in their sawed-off shotguns or their stolen pistols that they bring in from the States.
“And they’re certainly not going to be turning them in now to get a free $240 camera.”
Winnipeg police have partnered with Henry’s Photo to offer a Panasonic digital point-and-shoot camera and store gift card, together worth about $240, for every working gun turned in. For non-working or replica firearms, owners get a $75 gift card.
As with previous gun amnesty programs, people who turn in guns will not be charged with possession and storage offences under The Firearms Act, but police say all firearms will be investigated for links to criminal offences.
Acting chief Devon Clunis said offering amnesty for people to turn in a gun that they may have inherited without a license eliminates the chance it will be stolen and used in violence.
“It’s removing the opportunity for a criminal to get their hands on that gun,” he said.
Police estimate roughly 500 firearms were turned over and destroyed the last time an amnesty was offered.
Woods said he’d rather see those guns sold to responsible hunters and shooters.
“I see a lot of good quality old firearms that I would love to see passed on to a next generation,” he said. “I see this having zero effect on crime in Winnipeg.”
Police stress people should not take firearms to police stations or Henry’s Photo locations. To turn over a gun call 204-986-6222 and an officer will come to your home to pick up the weapon.
—With files from the Canadian Press