The Coalition for Gun Control/Pour le Controle des Armes

Guns in the News: Tuesday Roundup

Posted by cgccanada on July 8, 2009

1.1 Edmonton Sun (Alberta), 7 July 2009, Edmonton gang sources say the problem is getting their hands on bullets, not weapons

So you wanna buy a gun that can’t be traced back to you? No problem, my friend. I know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy. He can hook you up, no questions asked. But I’ll warn you right now, bullets are not so easy to come by. If you waste the clip that comes with the gun, good luck trying to get any more ammo. That, according to some sources connected to Edmonton’s street gangs, is why there aren’t more shootings in the city. Black-market guns are easy to find, but bullets… not so much. At the National Aboriginal Gang Prevention Commission’s recent kickoff in Edmonton, one of the witnesses said that in their time running with one of Edmonton’s largest native gangs, they had seen dozens of weapons, ranging from small-calibre handguns to assault rifles. “Hardly any bullets, though,” the witness said. “They’re really difficult to get.” Another gang associate told me that a friend had recently bought a stolen handgun and about two dozen bullets. Those rounds, the associate told me, were lovingly stored and frequently counted, because once they were gone, the purchaser didn’t expect to be able to replace them. Of the 15 homicides so far this year in the city, police have confirmed only four involved firearms. Two shooting deaths in January were casualties of a drug-trade turf war that’s since gone quiet. In April, a man was shot to death in the Hermitage area. Two suspects have been charged, but police have not revealed any motive. A few days earlier, Duane McArthur was gunned down randomly in his Mill Woods spa by a crazed 18-year-old, who later turned his weapon on himself. Gang-related shootings in Edmonton seem carefully planned and methodically carried out — targets are either executed at point-blank range or gunned down in a late-night drive-by, when no one else is around. Part of the reason for that, say some people close to gangs, is that ammunition is too rare to waste shooting up houses and taking hasty pot shots. One of the reasons bullets are so rare is that you can’t just walk into a sporting goods store and pick up a box. It’s illegal to buy them unless you have a federal firearms licence. But thugs still try to get around the system. Gordon McGowan, president of MilArm, one of the city’s best known firearms retailers, says young men frequently come into the store and try to buy .25 and .32-calibre rounds, apparently unaware that both those calibres are now prohibited. There are still plenty of these guns out there because owners who had them prior to the prohibition can apply to keep them, so bullets are still readily available. McGowan estimated that they account for more than half the handguns owned in Canada. “If a young fellow comes in and asks for .32-calibre ammunition, and I can see this kid’s not tall enough to ride the ride, my first question is, ‘How do you have a .32?’ ” Even if they have a permit and a plausible explanation for wanting the ammo, McGowan says, he also listens to his instincts. “If the kid seems evasive, I’ll just say, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t have that ammunition,'” he says. “I know when there’s something that’s not right.” Last week Red Deer RCMP made a chilling seizure. Mounties were looking into complaints that someone was making threats when they discovered a massive cache of guns and ammunition. In all, 100 firearms, including handguns, rifles and shotguns were seized, along with a colossal amount of ammo. They estimate the number of rounds at 500,000 to one million. David Elliott, 46, of Red Deer is charged with 13 counts of unsafe storage of a firearm, one count of uttering threats and two counts of marijuana possession. Yesterday, Red Deer RCMP spokesman Cpl. Kathe Deheer said they’re waiting for a special team of weapons experts to go through the pallets of ammunition to determine what they are. “There’s enough here to fill a small office,” she said.

1.2 Red Deer Advocate (Alberta), 3 July 2009, Hempnstuf Owner Released on Bail

A Red Deer man charged in connection with the seizure of 100 firearms and upwards of 500,000 rounds of ammunition has been released on bail. Hempnstuf owner David Elliott was released on a $10,000 cash bail on Thursday after being taken into custody on Tuesday. Elliott, 46, of Red Deer, has been charged with one count of uttering threats, two counts of possession of marijuana and 13 counts of unsafe storage of a firearm and will return to Red Deer provincial court on July 23. A website http://www.nofac.ca, which shows Elliott as a contact, lists antique firearms in prices of up to $10,000 for a Colt 1873 with pearl handles or a Mauser c96, an antique semi-automatic pistol created from the late 1800s until the late 1930s in Germany. Other guns listed include the .44 Russian, which is a black powder revolver developed by Smith & Wesson in the 1800s, ranging in price from $4,000 to $8,000. An antique firearm is defined by the Canadian Firearms Program as having been manufactured before 1898 that wasn’t designed or re-designed to discharge rim-fire or centre-fire ammunition. If a person only owns antique firearms made before 1898 they do not need to get a firearms licence or register any of their antique firearms, according to the Canadian Firearms Program online fact sheet on antique firearms. The program’s website also states that there are no restrictions on selling, buying, bartering or giving away antique firearms. Elliott’s website suggests a downtown storefront would soon be opening to sell the firearms. Besides the antique firearms listed, there is also a blog on the website, with links to news stories about people defending themselves in home invasions and articles on people’s right to smoke marijuana. His website also has information on an antique car for sale, air pistols for sale, ammunition, body armour and helmets. Red Deer City RCMP officers responded to a complaint of threats made at around 10:45 a.m. on Tuesday in the 5200 block of Gaetz Avenue. Police seized seven registered firearms, but observed other firearms and ammunition and obtained a warrant to search the building at 7 p.m. RCMP officers found more than 100 firearms, made up of pistols, rifles, shotguns and antique guns. Police said they also seized between 500,000 to one million rounds of live ammunition, an undisclosed amount of marijuana and other property. Investigation into the ownership of the firearms is continuing with assistance from the general investigation section, the RCMP explosive disposal unit, Red Deer RCMP forensic identification unit and RCMP customs and excise.

1.3 Winnipeg Free Press (Manitoba), 4 July 2009, Peace Advocates Caught Off Guard by Arms Transfer

Local politicians and peace advocates are chagrined that Manitoba is selling guns to Saudi Arabia, one of the most authoritarian countries in the world. “I think a Canadian company exporting small arms to the Middle East is a disgrace,” said Winnipeg Centre NDP MP Pat Martin. “Arms dealers fuel conflicts, plain and simple, and God knows what violence the Saudis are sponsoring this month.” Federal trade and export data shows that an unknown Manitoba gun manufacturer exported $1.2 million in rifles to Saudi Arabia last year. Manitoba’s total arms and ammunition exports have doubled to $3.1 million since 2004. Local peace advocates say they had no idea Manitoba was exporting guns to Saudi Arabia. “This is completely out of the blue for us,” said Paul Forget, program co-ordinator with Project Peacemakers. “Canada does export quite a lot of arms, so although this is unusual and it concerns me, unfortunately I’m not really surprised.” The guns — 110 of them —- also make an appearance in Canada’s latest report to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms. And, according to more detailed data provided by Statistics Canada from export permits, the guns are classified as rifles meant for sport hunting. Local peace groups say the hefty price tag — $10,000 for each rifle — suggests they’re being used for more than hunting. The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, which regulates arms exports and issues permits to any company selling weapons abroad, would not provide information about who sold the guns or what they are being used for in Saudi Arabia, saying the information is confidential. “The question is, if they are sniper rifles, what does Saudi Arabia need them for?” said Ken Epps, senior program associate with the Ontario-based peace group Project Ploughshares. Epps and Forget, whose Winnipeg-based group is affiliated with Project Ploughshares, said Canada has a reasonably good record on international agreements limiting the flow of arms. And, under federal export laws, automatic weapons can only be sold to the 20-or-so countries listed on the Automatic Firearms Country Control List. Most of the countries are NATO allies. But old loopholes also allowed automatic weapons to be sold to Saudi Arabia and Botswana. Those two countries topped Manitoba’s list of arms and ammunition buyers last year. According to a 2006 report on Canada’s arms exports, Ottawa “closely controls” the export of weapons to countries with terrible human rights records, like Saudi Arabia. “Since a large volume of Canadian firearms exports go to private end-users, steps are taken to ensure items are not diverted into the illegal arms trade or used to fuel local violence,” reads the report. “As part of this process, the bona fides of the end-users are thoroughly investigated.” In the mid-1990s, then Liberal Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy toughened the human rights criteria and the checks done to ensure arms don’t slip into the black market. But in the last couple of years, Ottawa has come under fire for releasing skimpy details of arms exports. Little information can be gleaned about individual arms sales, and DFAIT’s annual reports on weapons exports are often delayed by years. The last report covered 2003 to 2005, and included little detail about what Canadian-made arms are used for.

1.4 Orlando Sentinel (Florida), 2 July 2009, Yet Another Gun Range Suicide

A man from Canada rented a gun from Rieg’s Gun Shop on South Orange Blossom Trail and killed himself with it. It’s the fourth gun range suicide in the Orlando area since April. Sentinel reporter Sarah Lundy has more on the death. I have no idea how you prevent these suicides, short of ceasing the rental of firearms. Shoot Straight did so voluntarily after a murder-suicide at their Casselberry range. They wanted to run background checks on renters using the same database that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement keeps for checks on firearm purchasers, but for whatever reason, they weren’t able to do so. A suicide took place at the same shop a few weeks later. Still, even if gun shops become capable of running criminal background checks on renters, I wonder whether they’d prevent suicides. A criminal background check isn’t a mental health check, and given medical privacy rules, I doubt mental health information would ever be available to gun shops.

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