Advocates for gun owners’ rights and stricter gun control say police, the federal government and border services can take action to prevent massacres like the Nova Scotia mass shooting from happening again.
The Mass Casualty Commission, which led the public inquiry into the April 2020 mass shooting in which a gunman drove a mock RCMP cruiser across the province and killed 22 people, last month heard submissions on final recommendations from people on both sides of the gun control issue. .
Blair Hagen of the Canadian National Firearms Association said the commission should not tighten or introduce more Canadian gun regulations because current laws have done nothing to stop gunman Gabriel Wortman. He did not have a gun license and most of the guns used in the shooting were illegally smuggled from the United States.
“The perpetrator planned this incredible act of violence over a long period of time, carefully collecting the tools and accessories he needed – illegally if necessary – with utter contempt and complete disregard for any law or regulation,” Hagen said.
Hagen said the better question is why the gunman met “little or no resistance” at the start of the attack, which began in Portapic, N.S.
Rod Giltaka of the Canadian Coalition for Fire Rights said the only regulation that could influence the shooting was around search warrants.
Giltaka pointed to a section of the Criminal Code that allows a peace officer to apply to a judge for a search warrant with the intent to seize weapons in the interest of public safety.
Giltaka said the opportunity to use this section of the code came up in multiple cases in the years before the shooting, including tips in 2010 and 2011 where the gunman threatened his family or police and owned multiple guns.
Giltaka said the investigation revealed that the gunman’s behavior, including the illegal possession of firearms shown on Portapik, was an open secret in the community.
There appeared to be a “high level” of discretion by front-line police when conducting or applying for these searches, Giltaka said, calling for an inquiry to examine why that did not happen.
“These regulatory measures … are well understood by front-line police officers, so again this is a very serious issue,” Giltaka said.
1 came from a Canadian gun estate
But Joanna Birenbaum of the Canadian Coalition for Gun Control told the commission there are multiple areas where gun regulations need to be tightened or created, including a device that could prevent at least one gun from falling into the shooter’s hands.
One of the five guns found in Wortman’s possession after police killed him — a Ruger Mini 14 — came from the estate of his New Brunswick friend Tom Evans after his death, “no questions asked,” Birenbaum said.
Birenbaum said authorities don’t “follow-up” when someone’s firearms license expires or when a licensed person dies, so the family or attorney is responsible for notifying police that a gun needs to be taken or destroyed. .
Instead, she said there should be “immediate” administrative and legal changes to prevent the illegal transfer of firearms from estates and to track the status of any firearms owned by owners with expired licenses.
Evans’ Ruger and an RCMP-issued service pistol were stolen from Const. The gun investigators found in Canada is the only one found by Heidi Stevenson after she was killed during a mass shooting.
The other three came from the United States, and court records indicate Wortman’s friend Sean Conlogue of Houlton, Maine, once owned two of them — a Ruger P89 9-mm semi-automatic handgun and a Glock 23 .40-caliber semi-automatic pistol. .
Police also believe the shooter arranged to buy a Colt Law Enforcement Brand Carbine 5.56-mm semi-automatic rifle from another person after showing it off at a gun show in Houlton.
Evidence before the commission showed Wortman was able to smuggle guns across the border, often rolled up in the tonneau cover of his truck.
Birenbaum said the federal government needs to work out an agreement with U.S. border officials to prevent gun smuggling. An unlicensed Canadian.
“It doesn’t appear that Sean Conlogue, a friend of the perpetrator, has taken any steps to take criminal responsibility,” Birenbaum said.
A retired US federal prosecutor told CBC that technical firearms crimes rarely end up in court unless the accused is considered a risk to society.
Birenbaum said he should also address straw man purchases like the one used by Wortman — where one person buys a gun for someone else who is prohibited from buying a gun — and increase enforcement and inspections of gun dealers near the Canadian border.
The coalition also called for the establishment of a national firearms hotline, where citizens can report concerns about illegal firearms to the RCMP commissioner, rather than their local police force, which Birenbaum said would make a difference to Brenda Forbes.
Forbes said she reported Wortman’s abuse of her partner, Lisa Banfield, and the firearms to the RCMP multiple times, but nothing was done. An RCMP officer who responded to Forbes testified that her complaint had nothing to do with domestic violence or firearms.
The final report of the inquiry is due by the end of March 2023.