Police display guns seized during a series of raids at a press conference in Toronto on Friday, June 14, 2013. The number of guns obtained legally in Canada but are then sold to people who use them for criminal purposes has surged dramatically in recent years compared to firearms smuggled from the United States, Toronto police say. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

Illegal guns sourced in Canada surge compared to those smuggled from U.S.

Legal Canadian gun owners are selling their weapons illegally, authorities say

The number of guns obtained legally in Canada but are then sold to people who use them for criminal purposes has surged dramatically in recent years compared to firearms smuggled from the United States, Toronto police say.

In recent years, they say, investigators have noticed a stark shift in where guns used to commit crimes are coming from.

Before 2012, about 75 per cent of the firearms were trafficked from the United States. By 2017, however, about half originated from domestic sources, putting an end to the idea that most of Canada’s illegal guns come from across the border, Det. Rob Di Danieli of the guns and gangs unit said.

Legal Canadian gun owners are selling their weapons illegally, Di Danieli said, noting that police have seen more than 40 such cases in recent years.

The allure of a quick sell at a high profit margin is one reason legal owners might sell their guns. One man sold 47 guns and made over $100,000 in a five month period, the detective said.

“They go get their licence for the purpose of becoming a firearms trafficker,” Di Danieli said. “A lot of people are so ready to blame the big bad Americans, but we had our own little problem here.”

The comments come as Toronto reels from a Sunday night handgun attack on a busy east-end street that left three people, including the gunman, dead and another 13 injured. The parents of the gunman, 29-year-old Faisal Hussain, said he struggled with psychosis and depression his entire life.

READ MORE: Ten-year-old girl, 18-year-old woman killed in Toronto shooting

Overall, understanding the source of guns used criminally has also taken on a new urgency in light of the city’s 220 shootings this year and 27 deaths as of July 9.

Mayor John Tory said domestic trafficking must be addressed in light of what he called the city’s “gun problem.”

“You’ve heard me ask the question of why anybody would need to buy 10 or 20 guns, which they can lawfully do under the present laws,” Tory said on Monday. ”Why does anyone in this city need to have a gun at all?”

Two weeks ago, Tory urged measures to allow better tracking of firearms in a way that is “not unduly intrusive.” Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders said recently it would be helpful if information could be shared between levels of government about suspicious purchases.

“The government would know that I have two kids, two cars,” Di Danieli said. “But if I bought 10 shotguns, they wouldn’t know that I had 10 shotguns.”

Earlier this year, the federal government introduced Bill C-71 aimed at tightening controls on handguns. Under the legislation, businesses would have to maintain inventory and transfer records for non-restricted firearms, allowing police to better trace firearms, a spokesman for Public Safety Canada said in a statement.

Jooyoung Lee, an associate professor at the University of Toronto who specializes in examining gun violence, said findings from recent years show many guns used to commit crimes in Canada have originated within the country. If civilians are able to buy firearms legally, there is always the possibility they will enter an illegal market, Lee said.

“Any time you have a legal market for civilians to own concealable firearms … there is always a possibility that those kinds of firearms purchased legally can flow into the hands of people who want to use them to commit carnage,” he said.

Although it is still unknown how the man behind Sunday’s mass shooting obtained the gun, Lee added that Bill C-71 would allow for more detailed background checks that would go further back into people’s history.

“A person who has a long history of mental health issues, including psychosis and depression, should not have access to firearms,” he said of Hussain. ”I think that’s something that people on the left and people on the right agree upon.”

Domenic Saverino, owner of Al Flaherty’s Outdoor Store in Toronto, said his shop is instructed to notify police if they feel uncomfortable about a gun purchase and have done so numerous times.

Saverino said the RCMP already has checks and balances in place to track suspicious purchases and implementing more measures won’t help.

Olivia Bowden, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Delays on Highway 3 at Kootenay Pass

DriveBC reminding travellers the area is an active wildfire zone and warning of fallen debris.

Kootenay fires grow — more evacuation alerts

Syringa fire prompts evacuation alerts plus HWY 3 closure and U.S. fire crosses into B.C.

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Castlegar bridge designed by architect of collapsed Italian bridge

Riccardo Morandi designed the Kinnaird Bridge, which is part of Highway 3.

UPDATE: Fire forces closures and delays on Highway 3 at Kootenay Pass

Motorists should detour using Kootenay Lake ferry

Social media, digital photography allow millennials to flock to birdwatching

More young people are flocking to birdwatching than ever, aided by social media, digital photography

Former Trump aide Paul Manafort found guilty of eight charges

A mistrial has been declared for the other 10 charges against him

Canada’s team chasing elusive gold medal at women’s baseball World Cup

Canada, ranked No. 2 behind Japan, opens play Wednesday against No. 10 Hong Kong

Former B.C. detective gets 20 months in jail for kissing teen witnesses

James Fisher, formerly with Vancouver police department, pleaded guilty to three charges in June

Former B.C. premier Christy Clark criticizes feds for buying pipeline

The $4.5 billion purchase of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline second worst decision, she said

‘Takes more courage to fail’: B.C. ultra-marathon swimmer reflects on cancelled try at record

Susan Simmons halted her swim from Victoria to Port Angeles and back because of hypothermia

Animals moved from B.C. Interior shelters to make way for pets displaced by wildfires

The Maple Ridge SPCA houses animals to make space for pets evacuated from B.C.’s burning interior.

$21.5 million medical pot plant to be built in B.C.

The facility is to be built in Princeton

Spokane man enlists 500,000+ box fans to blow wildfire smoke back to B.C.

Spokane man Caleb Moon says he’s had enough with smoky skies from B.C.’s forest fires blanketing his city

Most Read