Local officials said they are overwhelmed by the number of firearms turned in during November’s Pixels for Pistols amnesty.
More than 1,700 firearms and 13,000 rounds of ammunition were turned in by Winnipeggers during the 30-day campaign, and each received a digital, point-and-shoot camera for every weapon and photography lessons for other weapons and ammunition.
"I was not prepared, with my staff and my resources, to handle this," Patrol Sgt. Kevin Wiens said, adding he processed the 2010 firearms amnesty when 192 firearms were turned in by residents. "This one kind of blows my mind."
The campaign was open only to Winnipeggers. Police said no charges would be laid for anyone who turned in a firearm.
Wiens credited photography retailer Henry’s for the success of this year’s campaign, recognition that was singled out also by Mayor Sam Katz and Police Chief Devon Clunis during an afternoon news conference at the Public Safety Building.
"I am thrilled with the resounding success of this great," campaign, Clunis said during an afternoon news conference at the Public Safety Building.
Clunis thanked Henry’s and its president, Ian Landy, who brought the campaign to Winnipeg after conducting similar initiatives in Toronto and Halifax.
Clunis also challenged Winnipeg’s retail community to follow Henry’s example and partner with the Winnipeg Police and city hall on initiatives to improve conditions in the community.
Landy said he wasn’t surprised by the results of the amnesty program but added the final number exceeded even his own estimations.
Landy said the retail cost of the campaign was about $700,000, an expense shared between Henry’s and Panasonic, makers of the camera that was given in exchange.
The city and WPS incurred no costs in the initiative. Henry’s and Panasonic bore the cost of the give-aways and advertising. Police officers assigned to the firearm collection worked regular hours but were re-assigned from their normal duties.
Staff Sgt. John Boguski, who supervised the collection, said most Winnipeggers were grateful for the opportunity to turn in the firearms.
"The people we dealt with were very appreciative," Boguski said. "We didn’t have any negative comments."
Wiens said the most unusual firearm turned in was an Italian-made shotgun that looked like a handgun. The oldest weapon, he said, was a rifle that dated to 1860.
Most typical of the firearms turned in by Winnipeggers were WWII-era Enfield rifles, Wiens said.
Wiens said some of the firearms will be tested to determine if they might have been used in a criminal offence.
All weapons will be destroyed.