CK police keeping more guns off the streets

Chatham-Kent Police Constable Rob Tobin displays guns that were seized across the municipality in 2018. (Photo by Allanah Wills)

The amount of guns seized in Chatham-Kent doubled in the last year, but the numbers may not be as startling as they appear.

In 2018, police seized 381 firearms and exhibits compared to 190 the year before.

However, according to Constable Rob Tobin, firearms examiner, the jump is a “statistical blip” mainly due to increased staff training combined with the introduction of new technology.

“We changed our computer system in car to a MDT, mobile data terminal. I was involved in training the officers one on one through that period through 2017 into the beginning of 2018,” he explained. “That took away from my ability to process some of the firearms and exhibits that came in during that time, so it created a little bit of a backlog.”

Tobin said the new MDT terminals give front line officers quicker access to information which allows them to be more proactive in their investigations, thus resulting in being able to seize more weapons. He also explained that although many of the guns they seize come from illegal activity, a large amount comes from honest sources.

“Either something happened in a family, where it’s been a death or something tragic and the family turns the firearm over to us for safekeeping or they want them destroyed because they no longer wish to possess them,” he said.

Around 50 of the firearms seized in 2018 also came from a province-wide firearms and weapon amnesty program, which gave residents the chance to voluntarily surrender their guns in a safe manner.

In 2018 the following amount of firearms and exhibits were seized:

• 105 pellet/BB guns and replica guns

• 78 non-restricted long guns

• 13 restricted firearms (handguns)

• 10 prohibited firearms

• eight crossbows

• 95 various amounts and calibres of ammunition

• 72 other miscellaneous weapons including pepper spray, switchblades and brass knuckles

According to Tobin, non-restricted long guns are by far the most common firearms seized in Chatham-Kent, however, he said he has been noticing a slight increase in replica handguns popping up in the area.

“What I am finding is there seems to be a lot of people involved in the drug trades that are carrying more pellet guns or replica guns,” Tobin said. “I’m seeing more and more replica pistols showing up when we do drug raids.”

For any guns seized in relation to criminal activity, Tobin explained that the courts are very specific about if the weapon needs to be destroyed. From there, police are required to stand witness as an outside company comes in to crush and completely destroy the firearm.