As far as The Toronto Sun is concerned, the rationale behind the city’s annual “Cash for Guns” program is as cut and dried as a piece of bacalhau. “The Cash for Guns project is aiming to take firearms out of the hands of bad guys by putting ‘up to’ $500 into the hands of good guys.” Only the Toronto’s bad guys don’t seem to have any problems getting guns, and removing 53ish weapons (last year’s total) isn’t going to change that fact. In fact, “The timing of the campaign launch comes just weeks after a burglary near Isabella and Church Sts. netted thieves 50 legally owned firearms. It’s believed those weapons, mostly handguns, have already hit the streets.” And how exactly do we know that it’s the “good guys” turning in these weapons, anyway? The “cash for Guns” program is an off-shoot of Crime Stoppers. Would it be churlish of me to suggest that the “good guys” should just call the cops? Let’s drill down a bit further . . .

None of the reports I’ve read mention the cost of Toronto’s “Cash for Guns” program. The advertising campaign is free; what agency wouldn’t want to get some major PC on their CV. But much money does it take to remove 50ish guns, including administrative costs? How many of those guns were used in the commission of a crime?

Back in ’05 when the program begun, the media (e.g., canada.com) and police were quick to proclaim “Cash for Guns” a hit (so to speak).

A Toronto Crime Stoppers campaign to get guns out of the hands of criminals is having nothing but success.

So far, tips to the program have led to the seizure of seven guns and the arrests of nine individuals on a variety of serious charges.

Last week, three people were arrested on 24 charges after Toronto Drug Squad officers probed tips regarding a weapon in the hands of criminals in the Jamestown area of Rexdale.

A .44 calibre Smith and Wesson revolver was seized along with six hollow-point armour piercing bullets, a small quantity of crack cocaine, powder cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana, as well as cash.

Other tips led divisional officers in Scarborough to the area where an automatic handgun was discovered in a sewer. Further investigation revealed that it had been smuggled into the country from the United States.

Alternatively or at the same time, we can look at Fresno California’s highly publicized and FAR less cumbersome Cash for Guns program for an idea.

The examiner.com leads us to one well-attended throw-down (your guns). Cops doled out $35 thousand worth of gift cards for 447 guns. No questions asked. I make that, say, $78.2997763 per gun. Oh, and “Event sponsors believe a few of the ‘cashed-in’ guns were stolen.

Does that sound a tad vague, in an entirely self-serving sort of way? Back to Toronto for more of the same [via citytv.com back in ’07]: “It proved to be a successful campaign and enabled us to advance several significant investigations,” Police Chief Bill Blair opined. “and to get handguns off our streets.”

What happened to the specific examples? Could it be that there are less of them now that Cash for Guns has hit its fifth year? Again, how many guns have been “taken off the streets” for what cost? More to the point, us there a better way to do this? If ONE tax dollar can be saved . . .

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