Guns for bus tickets: Halifax councillors say amnesty program is a 'joke'
The Halifax Regional Municipality is offering gun owners a deal: hand in your firearms and ammunition for bus tickets.
Starting next week, residents can turn in a gun for 50 bus tickets as part an amnesty program that is set to run from Sept. 12-23.
The program comes in response to increasing gun violence. Most recently, a man was fatally shot behind a Dartmouth elementary school.
Despite a unanimous vote Tuesday, many councillors mocked the approach to such a serious issue.
Coun. Gloria McCluskey described it as some “kind of a joke” to offer bus tickets.
She was among a number of critics who say bus tickets are not worth enough to make a difference in the lives of people involved with gun violence.
Coun. McCluskey says it is "kind of a joke" to offer bus tickets. CAO says HRM would like to see another sponsor come forward. @CTVAtlantic— Sarah Ritchie (@SarahRitchieCTV) September 6, 2016
In the past, advocates argued gun amnesties are ineffective because they target responsible gun owners without lowering violent crime levels.
Coun. Jennifer Watts said the program will be beneficial either way.
“[It] allows people to come forward that maybe have a gun that they’re concerned about and that they’re actually able to bring forward that they’re not then penalized,” she said during the meeting.
This is not Halifax’s first gun amnesty program.
In 2009, the Pixels for Pistols program offered a digital camera in exchange for a firearm. More than a thousand guns and 10,000 rounds of ammunition were turned in. Staff Stg. Scott MacDonald told CTV Atlantic it was Halifax’s “most significant amnesty.”
In 2015, more than 500 firearms were collected across Nova Scotia without an incentive.
Coun. David Hendsbee said he will ask for an additional $10,000 to fund the program and offer other incentives.
“For the rural residents, it would have no benefit of bus tickets. That’s why I think a cash option would be much better.”
Amid ongoing investigations into recent deaths, HRM public safety staff are quick to point out that this is no miracle solution.
“Data shows us that gun amnesty programs don’t necessarily take care of the violence,” Halifax public safety advisor told council.
- With a report from CTV Atlantic’s Sarah Ritchie