The National Police Federation (NFP), created in 2019 to represent 20,000 front-line RCMP members, has released its inaugural position statement on the current state of gun violence in Canada. The announcement suggests that government leaders take a fact-based approach in efforts to protect and advance public safety and gun violence prevention.
Border security with the United States, the world's largest manufacturer of small arms, was an important area where law enforcement could take actions to prevent more illegal firearms getting into the hands of criminals, according to the NFP. The shooter responsible for Canada's worst mass shooting in history — the attack in Portapique, Nova Scotia in April, 2020 — used four firearms, three of which were obtained illegally in the U.S.
“The NPF takes this issue very seriously because, as police officers, we routinely see first-hand how illegal weapons are directly linked to increased gun violence and, sadly, death,” said NFP president Brian Sauvé.
“Our recommendations call for a combination of better legislation, better funding, and evidence-based solutions that we believe are necessary to curtailing the proliferation of illegal guns in Canada.”
In contrast to restricting legal firearms owners, particularly those with rifles, the NFP points to numbers provided by Statistics Canada, such as 60 per cent of gun-related fatal shootings being committed with handguns. Homicides, and shootings related to organized crime or gangs, have risen 10 per cent since 2015.
Guns used in these instances are almost always already prohibited or restricted under current Canadian law, demonstrating that the additional firearm restrictions are unlikely to provide any benefit to enforcement and prevention.
The NPF statement listed four main points as a call to action:
First is passing legislation to address “crime reduction, gang diversion, safe communities, secure borders, Canadian enforcement agency integration, and cross-border safety of the public and all police officers.”
Secondly, funding for the RCMP's Border Integrity Program, allowing for “proactive RCMP investigative weapons enforcement activity and the dismantling of gang and organized crime firearms smuggling.”
The third, a call for funding to enable law enforcement to accurately address crime prevention rather than continuing to monitor unrelated restrictions on licensed and regulated firearms owners.
And lastly, that the NFP supports “evidence-based policy changes regarding licensing, mandatory safety training, safe storage and a registry of civilian firearms that live up to Canada's high standard for legal firearm ownership.”
The NFP is the largest police labour relations organization in Canada, the second largest in North America and the first independent national association representing RCMP members.