Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Morris speaking at a press conference held in Penticton announcing an October amnesty that will take aim at illegal weapons.

Gun amnesty aims at illegal weapons in Okanagan

British Columbians can unload old guns, ammunition — any unwanted firearms or weapons — from Oct. 1 to 31.

To ensure illegal or unwanted firearms and weapons don’t end up in the hands of criminals a province-wide gun amnesty will take place in October.

British Columbians can unload old guns, ammunition — any unwanted firearms or weapons — from Oct. 1 to 31.

“Any steps we can do to reduce firearms getting to people for illegal purposes is a step in the right direction,” said Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Morris.

“Realistically, no, it’s not going to eliminate incidents from happening in the future but hopefully it will mitigate them and prevent a lot of tragedies from happening in the future.”

The month-long amnesty will apply to any documented or undocumented firearms and other weapons — including restricted and prohibited ones — that have not been used for a criminal purpose, as well as any amount of ammunition. Morris said the risk of prosecution is taken away for those wanting to turn items over that haven’t been used for a criminal purpose.

In Toronto, a city councillor is proposing a gun amnesty where those who turn items over would receive cash or grocery store gift cards.

“We are not in the business of exchanging money for weapons in British Columbia,” said Morris.

Penticton RCMP rounded up 32 firearms in 2013 during the last amnesty. At the time, RCMP told the Western News most people came in with older firearms that nobody in the family wanted anymore. They received one “newer” shotgun.

Cpl. Dan Moskaluk, media relations for the South East District, said the gun amnesty is not only effective in larger centres. He added many firearms recovered during criminal investigations are obtained illegally by perpetrators.

“When we speak of break and enters, and in general, certainly we do come across some weapons and items that get stolen,” said Moskaluk. “It is a day-to-day factor in policing in smaller communities. Certainly we have seen success in previous amnesties that have taken place here in the South Okanagan.”

Kelowna RCMP picked up 41 long guns, two air guns and 14 hand guns. Included in that cache was a Second World War Sten sub machine gun that was not in working condition. As well, they retrieved other weapons in the 2013 gun amnesty including a baseball bat studded with nails.

Across the province RCMP had 1,429 firearms and 97 other unwanted weapons were picked up by detachments during the last amnesty. In addition to guns, over 16,000 rounds of ammunition were also turned in.

Interested firearms owners are asked to call their local detachment or their department’s non-emergency line to arrange for officers to attend and retrieve the weapons. Under no circumstances should anyone deliver them to police.

Firearms and ammunition surrendered during the amnesty will be destroyed.