Toronto Police have wrapped up their latest gun buyback program and just like every similar program across the country, it was a raving success. Just ask them.
But was it really?
The police will point to the more than 2,300 guns collected as proof the program works. Mayor John Tory will say one gun off the streets is worth it.
That’s a strange way to measure things.
Yes, I know the argument. If it saves one life, then we should do it!
Ok then, let’s ban cars because if we took all vehicles off the roads, then people wouldn’t die in collisions.
This particular gun buyback program saw citizens paid almost $600,000 to turn over their firearms.
What are the chances any of them were crime guns?
First off, if police had any reason to believe that the gun handed over to them was used in a crime — they stated publicly at the beginning that the guns would be tested — the people handing it over would be charged.
This was no amnesty, so criminals weren’t dropping off their pistols.
Also, consider that an illegal handgun on the street, the kind smuggled up from the United States, will cost between several hundred and several thousand dollars.
Police were offering $350 per handgun and $200 per long gun.
Will you really trade in a pistol that you spent $1,500 on for $350?
As for the $350 that was spent to buy each handgun, it appears much of that money went to people trying to offload useless guns or in some cases, collections that could not be sold elsewhere.
When Toronto Police tweeted out a photo of their haul earlier this week, complete with property tags revealing the identity of those turning in the guns, one sharp eye noticed something right away.
“This is obviously part of a collection. They are all of the same type and prohibited,” Mark Morelli said.
Morelli is a retired police officer and the man behind The Canadian Gun Vault. He is used to dealing in rare gun collections and explained why Toronto Police Service had overpaid.
Many of the revolvers turned in were old guns, some dating from the 1800s, with short barrels that are no longer legal. Certain people in Canada who owned those guns prior to the 1995 gun control legislation — brought in by the Chretien Liberals — are still allowed to own them but they can only sell to an ever shrinking group.
That has shrunk the market and many of the guns turned in would only fetch between $50 and $150 on the open market, meaning the police were paying a much higher price.
I understand that this is not the only thing being done to deal with gun violence but it is the one that the police and the city like to promote.
Is it really the best use of more than $500,000?
No, for the most part it is a waste.
That money could have paid for more officers, more resources to target the small group of people responsible for the gun violence in the first place.
But that wouldn’t lead to a photo-op which is what this program is really all about.