By Westman Journal Staff
There are significantly fewer firearms in Brandon-area homes following a month-long program asking Manitoba residents to turn in their unwanted firearms and ammunition.
The Manitoba Association of Chiefs of Police Amnesty Program saw 13 police agencies work together to encourage the public to turn in any firearms they no longer wanted. The results were drew almost 700 firearms and more than 22,000 rounds of ammunition, which were collected in the month of June.
One of the motivating factors behind the program was to get legal weapons which are no longer in use removed from the possession of law-abiding owners, lest they become a stolen and illegal weapon somewhere down the road.
“We take the safety of our families and our communities very seriously,” said former Manitoba Justice Minister Heather Stefanson. “By encouraging Manitobans to turn in these unwanted firearms and ammunition we did our part in ensuring that illegal or stolen guns never make it into the wrong hands.”
Here in Brandon, a significant number of firearms and ammunition were collected.
“Under the amnesty program we took in 42 firearms,” said Brandon Police Sgt. Dallas Lockhart. “Of those, 12 were shotguns, 25 were rifles, and five were hand guns.
“We also had two machetes surrendered. They are not firearms, but they are weapons people wanted to get rid of, so we took those in as well.”
Besides the firearms, a total of 1561 rounds were collected by Brandon Police. Sifting through the numbers, Sgt. Lockhart says he feels the month-long initiative was a real positive for the community.
“Rather than having firearms that are not being used, and that could potentially end up in the wrong hands, it’s better to get rid of them so we can properly dispose of them,” he said. “That makes the community safer for everyone.”
He added none of the weapons were exceptional in any way, as opposed to some other communities where antique guns and even a cannonball was turned in. More importantly, after each weapon was thoroughly examined, it was determined none of them had been used in any known criminal act.
“None of the weapons turned in were associated to any crimes that we are aware of, nor were any charges laid as a result of the surrenders,” he said.
Sgt. Lockhart noted that while the Brandon Police will still dispose of weapons if asked, the public is reminded to call them to have it completed rather than attempting to bring the weapon to the police station.
“We have people phone in and we generate a call then we have members attend the residence and retrieve the firearms from the residence,” he said. “That way we don’t have the public approaching our station seen carrying weapons or have any issues with people transporting restricted weapons.”