Charmaine Williams, a mother of five and resident of Toronto's neighbouring city of Brampton, has come up with a unique proposal to tackle the city's "epidemic of gun violence." Williams is asking Peel Police to consider a month-long program in September, which would allow people to turn in their firearms in exchange for monetary compensation from the city.
For every gun returned, the City of Brampton would cut the former owner a cheque - $100 per handgun and $50 per long gun. "Money is a big motivator and it works," Williams told the CBC.
The program isn't the first of its kind. Ontario Provincial Police ran a similar buyback program in April of last year, successfully collecting 69 firearms and 75 pounds of ammunition in the Peel region alone.
Police departments in New York and San Francisco have also held buyback events in the past, recovering over 150 weapons in each city.
But, the program has its critics. Many claim that it doesn't work whatsoever, and there's no proof that it has any impact on gun violence. Williams' proposal made it onto Toronto's Reddit feed, and dozens of people are jumping into the conversation to point out its flaws.
"As a legal Firearms owner: If I wanted to get rid of any of my firearms, I'd either give it to a friend who is licensed or sell them on firearmscanada.com," says one Redditor, "I would not turn it in for a pittance of its value... Now, do you think a criminal who purchased an unregistered firearm would turn it in for a measly 50-100$ when they can easily sell it for substantially more and likely paid upwards of a couple thousand for it?? Unlikely."
Experts point out that guns can typically sell for $500 to $1500 on the street.
"How is this a 'buyback?'" another user asks, "Brampton didn't sell the guns. It should be one of the United States doing the program, since the majority of illegal guns come from them."
Many seem to agree, saying that the majority of illegal firearms are smuggled in from the United States. Meaning that, even if someone chooses to turn in their gun, they'll easily be able to get another on the black market.
"This program only serves the law-abiding citizen with guns. The thugs and gang manner aren't going to turn in their weapons. If they want to get a gun and kill someone they will find one regardless," one user points out.
But, due to the severity of Toronto's gun violence problem, it's important to consider every initiative that aims to make a change.