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Nanaimo police collect unwanted firearms during gun amnesty

Guns, rifles and pistols were turned over to Nanaimo RCMP during the recent B.C. Gun Amnesty Program, which aimed to get unwanted firearms safely disposed of and prevent them from possibly falling into the wrong hands.

During the amnesty period, June 1-30, people in Nanaimo had police pick up more than 140 firearms that included non-restricted rifles and shotguns, 12 restricted handguns, 11 prohibited handguns and other firearms, five air guns that were actually exempt from firearm status and about 1,000 rounds of ammunition.

"The number is still going to go up a little because there are still some files in the queue," said Const. Gary O'Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman.

Among the prohibited firearms were a .25-calibre Colt semi-automatic pistol and a .32-calibre Browning semi-automatic pistol.

"A daughter called," O'Brien said. "It was from her deceased father. They found it while cleaning the garage and lots of ammunition as well."

Cheap handguns, known as Saturday night specials, were commonly manufactured in .32- and .25-calibre and were often used in crimes. Consequently, both calibres were banned banned in Canada and are categorized as prohibited weapons.

O'Brien said cases of children of deceased parents, who were former hunters, finding firearms when they go through estates is a common occurrence.

"One of the collections was a beautiful 12-gauge Beretta shotgun," O'Brien said. "The owner was 84 and he had lost most of his sight and couldn't shoot anymore, so he handed that over along with several boxes of ammunition."

Primary safety reasons for turning in unwanted firearms to the police are to prevent children from possibly finding and playing with them and to stop them from being stolen during home break-ins and falling into the hands of criminals.

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