‘The number one reason we're doing it is just to show the community these firearms'
BIBLE HILL - They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and in the eyes of some beholders they even may offer a certain degree of beauty.
But they all have at least two things in common - they are illegal and they are potentially deadly.
"This particular one is unique. You don't see many like this one here," RCMP Cpl. Addie Maccallum said of a homemade .22-calibre handgun he was holding up. "That's great craftsmanship," he said, adding the gun had likely been made by a gunsmith because of its quality workmanship.
The problem, however, is that it is also illegal and was used to shoot someone.
"It fell into the hands of a criminal and it was used in a criminal act," Maccallum said.
The gun is one of a number that have been tracked down within Colchester County and turned over to RCMP/Truro Police Service Integrated Street Crime Unit within the past year.
The homemade gun is also one of 14 that Maccallum had set out for a photo display at the RCMP detachment in Bible Hill as an example of the types of guns that have been recovered, or what may still be hidden in attics, basements or other places.
Also on display was a Walther P38 handgun that would have been issued to a German officer during the Second World War and an old 7.62 mm Ishapore military assault rifle.
"These are prohibited and restricted, where you need a special license to take them and own them," Maccallum said.
"People that have guns like these, typically legally, will have them for collectors, target shooting. Those are the things they have them for. I'm sure if somebody possessed that with the proper licensing they would take it out maybe to a gun club or target practicing, like a range or they keep it as part of their collection."
While normal long guns, such as hunting rifles and shotguns, no longer have to be registered, handguns, which are restricted, legally do have to be kept on file.
Those such as the military assault rifle are considered prohibited firearms.
"If they're prohibited, that means you can't own them," Maccallum said.
Handguns and other restricted firearms are supposed to be registered though the Canadian Firearms Centre. After a period of time, however, the registrations lapse and in many cases, the original owners die and the guns are passed on or stored away and forgotten.
The firearms centre provides a list to the National Weapons Support Tea, which then shares the information to the RCMP and municipal police forces as a way to track them down.
Out of approximately 115 such firearms that had been registered within Colchester County, police over the past year were able to recover 13. But in the process, police also came across other firearms that had not been properly registered.
"Not only were these 13 seized but they were actually able to locate another 52, which the families went through the proper channels and now have them properly registered," Maccallum said. "So they've located over 65."
In some cases, firearms that are tucked away but not properly stored, can fall into the hands of a criminal should they be stolen in a home invasion.
"The danger they present is that these firearms are dangerous, number one, but they could pose a danger to a family member or a child if they are not safely stored," Maccallum said.
And preventing such a tragic accident or keeping the guns out of a criminal's hands is "what this program is about," he added. "People commit crimes, break into houses to get these guns to commit other crimes."
But anyone who relinquishes an old fireman that is in their possession does not have to worry about being charged, Maccallum said, if the gun is found not to have been used in a criminal act.
"The number one reason we're doing it is just to show the community these firearms," he said, of the display. "And there still are other ones, we know there are more out there, people pass them on down through the family and they may not know what to do with them.
"Obviously, we do have some questions that we want to ask but we're not looking to start a criminal investigation on somebody who wants to turn in a firearm. We just want to get the firearm."