Recovery program keeps guns out of criminal hands

Harry Sullivan
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‘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."

Twitter: @tdnharry






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Recent comments

  • Great Article
    January 18, 2014 - 16:11

    Hi, I just wanted to thank the author of this article for writing it. The voting system for this article may be used not only to vote for the quality of the article but also its content. I voted low based on the content (approval or disapproval of the "safe city" program) not the quality of the writing or the article itself, which were fantastic.

  • Roland H
    January 18, 2014 - 10:13

    These types of guns are not very often used in crimes, mostly the criminal part is by definition, and classification. 99% of real crime guns are never registered, and are smuggled in. The Cops are putting on a little public relations show to scare the average law abiding citizen. The real problem is youths selling and using illicit drugs, the failed war on drugs. They don't want to end drug prohibition because budgets would be cut. Social problems are behind serious crime, not guns. Since the 1960's this problem increased, it's not rocket science.

  • Mark O'Hallran
    January 18, 2014 - 09:16

    The video indicates, that the RCMP are actively seeking out people who's certificates have expired. This is Colchester County, not Orange County, L.A. or Chicago. These are people who've merely let a permit expire, and not gang bangers. Wouldn't the RCMP's limited resources be better used tracking real criminals committing real crimes, instead of tracking otherwise law abiding citizens who are only guilty of letting a certificate expire. Also what a waste. Some of those firearms are historical pieces, and could be sold to collectors with proper certificates. Even deactivated (rendered permanently unable to fire) some of those firearms could fetch hundreds or thousands of dollars; The money could be donated to charity.

  • Frank McFarquhar
    January 15, 2014 - 14:11

    After reading the above I will say ; 1 - Storage laws for firearms are written into law & are used by responsible gun owners. 2 - Any one found not doing so should be made to comply , with perhaps a fine but not confiscation of guns. 3 - Prohibited firearms can be owned by any person who had a least 1 registered to them before a certain yr. Believe it was 1992 or 8. As long as they keep at least 1 registered to them , they can continue to buy more. 4 - Those people without any pro-hib . registered to them can not buy any. Exception is handing down a pro-hib. to a family member if it was made by 1945 ( family war trophy ) . 5 - Registration of all restricted & Prohibited firearms is permanent until it is transferred to another . Registration does not need to be re-done every (period of time). I wish people would do there homework before putting things in print.

    • True
      January 15, 2014 - 17:53

      "Registration does not need to be re-done every (period of time)" True. guns are registered, it last forever PEOPLE are licensed and it SHOULD last forever but alas it runs out every 5 years. If it DID last forever these cops would have no program at all to confiscate people's registered guns. Also, why is that murder handgun in there? In the video they say it was from a murder a couple YEARS ago, ie not part of this program.

  • Bill
    January 15, 2014 - 13:58

    What a waste of historic pieces , when these precincts do there yearly budgets and go whining to the government that they need money for new equipment they should be denied and the fact that thousands of dollars of guns were sent for destruction by them.

  • Mike Wallace
    January 14, 2014 - 19:40

    I do not see any securing; locking device on any of these firearms to render them inoperable!!!!! My oh My

  • Andy
    January 14, 2014 - 19:11

    The picture in this article clearly indicates a serious violation in the Firearms Safety rules. Remember ACTS and PROVE it safe? What is the first step in PROVE? "Point in the safest direction." Do you think all those handguns lying on the table are pointing in the direction compliant with the first step of PROVE ? Or, is the direction of that other officer the safest one ?

  • Bryan Moir
    January 14, 2014 - 18:52

    Are we to believe the RCMP took these from dangerous criminals, or from otherwise law-abiding citizens that may have let their license lapse? More details are needed as without context we do not know if the resources spent in this case to protect the public were well spent by improving community safety or if the RCMP picked on paper criminals in order to create a photo opt?

  • Edward Quinn
    January 14, 2014 - 18:07

    The officer is holding a P38 German semi auto handgun probably a war trophy and worth money If was auctioned off as Frank McFarquhar states in his comment the money could go to the local food banks or women's shelters if it goes to the furnace no one gets nothing.

    • G Holden
      January 15, 2014 - 20:41

      Who checks AND WATCHES to see these guns are actually destroyed, and do not end up in a police officers collection? Someone NEEDS to police the police.

  • Canadian
    January 14, 2014 - 17:48

    Recovered? From what? A robbery? If a person was robbed and you "recover" the guns give them back to the owner. Even if they are evidence in a trial the guns are not *yours* they belong to the property owner, guns or not, CFO "rules" or not. Unless the lawful owner of the guns DID something criminal you should not be confiscating his property and destroying it without compensation. If you "recovered" a stolen car, even if it was used in a crime, would you not return it to the original owner? Would you destroy their property without compensation too?

  • novashark
    January 14, 2014 - 16:13

    Apparently, they were seized from non-lawabiding people! This is how most criminals in N.S. obtain their guns- by stealing from "collecters". The time is well past that "licensed gun owners should have prohibited and restricted guns in their residences. My condolences to all you NRA wanttobes.

    • Yes
      January 15, 2014 - 14:02

      YOU GOT IT! You understand their message, their propaganda! Guns in the hands of law abiding citizens is dangerous, a bad thing, and something needs to be done about it! That is their message. Now, please consult stats Canada as to where crime guns actually come from and put in a freedom of information request to RCMP Cpl. Addie Maccallum for his source material for his "statistics". You will find they are simply trying to justify hunting down and persecuting "criminals" that are criminals only in name, because a federal law says they have to have a firearms license that is current and up to date..... if it were a provincial law they'd simply get a fine and have no criminal status at all!

    • Scott Manning
      January 15, 2014 - 20:33

      Another mindless comment from an ill informed anti gun troll. And lots of Canadians are proud NRA members, like me.

    • Sources
      January 18, 2014 - 12:26

      Most all guns used in a crime in Canada come from the United States. Every "safe city" project uses the false pretense that legal gun owners are the source of crime guns to justify their project. Sources and references, more if needed: this one from a Conservative member of parliament noting that us licensed gun owners have nothing to do with violent crime, as per STATS CANADA A variety of police studies have found that between 2% and 16% of crime guns were stolen from legal owners or were ever in the Canadian gun registry. (lots of links for this last one within this link)

  • Witheld Security
    January 14, 2014 - 14:40

    It's sad that they will all be destroyed, some of them are likely valuable collectibles with historical value, others good target shooters. It's a pity the firearms law is such a blunt instrument with such large costs while not contributing to public safety. Of course, any junkers are better destroyed

  • Gerry Davis
    January 14, 2014 - 13:35

    That's disgusting - the police should auction the firearms off to law abiding gun owners instead of blanket destruction. Most in the picture are historically significant and would be well looked after by enthusiasts, and the police could use to the funds generated to bulk up their budgets.

    • I agree
      January 14, 2014 - 15:15

      I agree. \ But, thing is, there is a Chief Firearms Officer "rule" that guns are to be destroyed, always, and never sold to a licensed gun owner or given to a licensed relative, etc. No rhyme or reason for it, just destruction of property with no regards for it, destruction that has no bearing whatsoever on the crime or on the punishment.

    • banditos
      January 14, 2014 - 19:28

      I agree with Gerry. But the authorities actions do not have to make sense. They know better........right?

  • Shannon Lynds
    January 14, 2014 - 13:17

    "through an initiative to keep the weapons off the streets and out of the hands of criminals" Again, Id like more info on this. I've seen such initiatives and they often consist of going after registered firearms owners who have let their paper work expire or some silly paper work infraction who then in turn have 10s of thousands of dollars of property stolen and destroyed and their guns proudly displayed as "guns off the streets" and "crime guns". See Toronto Guns and Gangs unit, or Halifax Police who modeled a similar program based on Toronto's awhile back. Not quite taking guns from drug dealers on the street corner. Looking forward to a follow up guys @ Truorodaily news :)

  • Frank McFarquhar
    January 14, 2014 - 13:15

    Why are the guns going to be destroyed ? They could be auctioned off to licensed gun owners , who already have these types. The money could benefit any number of needy charities. Getting guns away from criminals is a good thing & a never ending job. Destoying these guns serves no good purpose & denies much needed funds to charities. These types of guns have been owned by many licensed Canadians for decades. Let us not waste these collectables & chance for charities to gain.

    • Yeah
      January 14, 2014 - 14:03

      Auctioned off to licensed gun owners? I don't think you understand their point of view. Taking "guns off the street" to many police is the same as taking guns of any type from anyone. The easiest guns to take are FROM licensed gun owners. Do you honestly think these guns were ever used in a crime?? It is far more likely they belong to a collector who has never harmed anyone, never been violent to anyone, who has merely let his firearms license expire. Any other person who lets a license expire would not be tossed in prison, have their house raided, their property stolen (by cops) and destroyed (by cops) but firearms owners, well we are not quite like the rest of Canadians. We dont need all those "charter rights and freedoms" that other Canadians have.

    • Dave
      January 14, 2014 - 17:05

      Because their intent is to reduce the number of guns in the populace over all, whether responsibly-owned or not. As much as I applaud them for actually going after criminals instead of law-abiding citizens for a change, they're only in it for the political posturing of appearing to keep the community safe - makes the politicos happy and wins votes. Make no mistake they care nothing for the historicity, intrinsic value and beauty of the firearms....and law-abiding gun owners even less! Don't ever forget what happened in High River, Alberta or we'll be next.

    • Gordon Blakeburn
      January 14, 2014 - 17:33

      The RCMP do not believe anyone other then them and the military should have firearms. It's really that simple, after all how can they run a police state with citizens able to defend themselves?

  • Shannon Lynds
    January 14, 2014 - 13:10

    more "guns off the streets" I see more information would be nice were these guns that had been stolen from a licensed RPAL(PPAL) holder? It would be nice if they would be returned, if so. if actual crime guns used for criminal activity, kudos to u