Federal agencies are trying to boost efforts to trace the origins of guns used in crimes, but jurisdictional hurdles appear to prevent those efforts from going as far as some would like. .

The federal government says the RCMP has introduced a new mandatory tracing policy, meaning that in places where the Mounties are under police jurisdiction, confiscated illegal guns will automatically be sent to the force’s National Firearms Tracing Center. will be sent.

The House of Commons Public Safety Committee and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police have called on the government to require that all crime guns recovered during police investigations across the country — not just the RCMP — be traced. Be submitted for.


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The latest figures show that only a small fraction of the tens of thousands of crime guns recovered each year are ever recovered.


In a newly released response to the Public Safety Committee’s April report on reducing gun and gang violence, the government says tracing is an important tool for determining the source of illegal firearms.

The RCMP’s National Tracing Center traces the movement of a gun from its manufacture or import into Canada, through the hands of wholesalers and retailers, to the last known legal owner or business. The center works with partners including the Firearms Analysis Tracing and Enforcement Program in Ontario.

Tracing can also help determine whether a gun was smuggled into Canada or came from a domestic source.

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Ottawa allocated $15 million over five years starting in 2021-22, and $3.3 million ongoing, to increase the RCMP’s ability to trace firearms and identify movement patterns. Also support the development of a new national tracing database.

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The federal center traced more than 2,140 firearms in 2020, and the Commons committee was told new funding could triple the tracing capacity.

The money will also go towards convincing the police of the strategic benefits of tracing in criminal investigations. The federal response added that the RCMP would “actively assist” the heads of police and partner agencies to advance the committee’s recommendation that all police agencies trace seized firearms. Submit for

But the government backtracks on a promise to make gun tracking a requirement for all crimes.

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Asked about the government’s intentions, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendesino’s office said that while the RCMP has a new mandatory tracing policy, “guns confiscated by other police services fall under provincial jurisdiction.” “

In their July resolution calling for comprehensive tracing, police chiefs cited the absence of solid data for regions other than Ontario to help understand the pattern of gun use in crime, and police Adding that the effectiveness of tracing as an intelligence tool “depends on the quality of information gathered” and appropriate follow-up investigations.

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“We’re going to need to do more large-scale tracing to get some really good insight into patterns and trends,” RCMP Deputy Commissioner Stephen White told the Commons committee.

Gun control advocacy group PolySeSouvient said there is general agreement that crime-fighting guns need to be tracked. “Unfortunately, there is no comparable consensus regarding the tools needed to enable effective tracing.”

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While tracing smuggled guns typically starts with U.S. manufacturers, tracking ownership of weapons produced in Canada requires sales records and global registration, said the group, which includes Montreal. Including students and graduates of École Polytechnique, where 14 women were shot dead in 1989.

Canada had these measures in place until Stephen Harper’s Conservative government dismantled the federal long gun registry and eliminated mandatory record of sales, Polisovant noted.

“While the Liberal government has only recently restored commercial sales records, both the Conservatives and Liberals are opposed to bringing back universal registration.”

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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