By Tiffany Williams
To stop violence from occurring there needs to be fewer weapons on the streets and that is exactly what Hobbema is hoping to do. Starting on Aug. 1 to Nov. 30 Hobbema residents can safely hand over their illegal or unwanted firearms and ammunition to RCMP.
The gun amnesty program will allow people the chance to turn over their weapons without facing charges for possessing unregistered and unlicensed weapons. However, once the RCMP receive the weapons they will test all the firearms and any found to have been stolen or used in a crime may lead to charges. Most of the guns turned over will be destroyed. Those with historical significance will be dealt with appropriately by the RCMP and band representatives.
Samson Cree Nation Chief Marvin Yellowbird thought the new program was a positive initiative for the community.
“In addition to our efforts to deal with violence it will help. I support the program and I think it will help with the violence in our area,” said Yellowbird.
“This amnesty is a great example of a community taking responsibility and taking action,” said Justice Minister Alison Redford in a press release. “Community leaders recognize there is a gun problem in Hobbema and they have decided to do something about it. By working alongside government and the RCMP, they are demonstrating that safety of their residents is their top priority.”
Since April when a toddler was shot the four First Nations that make up Hobbema including Ermineskin, Louis Bull, Montana and Samson have worked to deter violence. A curfew has been in place, homes that were spray painted with graffiti have been cleaned up and the community is working to make things safer.
“It is feeling good in our community. The conditions have improved. The task force continues to meet to try and come up with new ideas and since the curfew things have seemed calmer as well,” said Yellowbird.
The gun amnesty is for all firearms, including shotguns, handguns and ammunition. Residents are also encouraged to turn over unwanted replica or imitation firearms or pellet guns as they could be used in crimes or other dangerous weapons such as knives will also be accepted.
Anyone who wants to turn in their unwanted firearms should contact the Hobbema RCMP at 780-585-3893 to make arrangements for the RCMP to pick up the weapons. Members will then go to the person’s residents to pick up the firearms. Residents should not take their weapons to RCMP detachments unless instructed to do so.
“The Hobbema RCMP and First Nations communities view the gun amnesty as a crime prevention tool to address local concerns and reduce gang-related crimes involving firearms,” said RCMP ‘K’ Division criminal operations officer, assistant commissioner Bill Smith in a release. “It means a lot to us to have the community’s support in this important initiative.
In 2006, Albertans turned over more than 2,700 unwanted firearms and other weapons to police in a province-wide, month long amnesty.