A task force given the job of coming up with strategies to crack down on gun violence has now reported back to the provincial government.
The Illegal Firearms Task Force (IFTF) delivered 37 recommendations including better co-ordination between police agencies, more and better anti-gang education programs in school and increased enforcement on the sale of black-market firearms and parts.
LISTEN: B.C. task force issues 37 recommendations to crack down on gun violence
B.C.’s Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the government is already taking action on the report, including expanding the police gang unit and the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit to lead the illegal firearms strategy.
In 2015, there were over 2,000 incidents of the criminal use of firearms, Farnworth said.
He added that 60 per cent of illegal firearms over the last three years were sourced in Canada, something the report attributes “to changes in firearms legislation in states such as Washington and Oregon requiring record-keeping at the point of sale for all firearms, which allows tracing to identify a purchaser.
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“In Canada, there is no national legislation to require record keeping for sales of non-restricted firearms.”
Weapons smuggled from the United States also remains a problem.
Retired RCMP Assistant Commissioner Wayne Rideout, who led the task force, said imitation weapons are also a concern. He said there are no age restrictions on the sale of imitation firearms, and some criminals who have been banned from carrying real guns are turning to using fake ones.
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“A drug deal, for example, it gives them that sense of power and intimidation that they’re looking for but they fall outside of carrying an actual prohibitive weapon.”
“They’re easier to obtain, they’re almost impossible to differentiate from a real firearm.”
Rideout said the report doesn’t call for an outright ban but says controls are needed on who can get an imitation gun, and where they can be used. He said B.C.’s Schools Act also doesn’t ban imitation weapons in the classroom.
The province also promised to press for its fair share of $327 million pledged by Ottawa earlier this month for the fight against guns and gangs.
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