The Royal Canadian Mounted Police now say that they have a “good idea” that the man who killed 22 people in an hours long rampage in Nova Scotia last weekend did not have a firearms acquisition certificate and illegally possessed the guns he used in his attack.
Authorities still haven’t said what kind of firearms were used by the killer, but Chief Supt. Chris Leather says that’s a key part of the investigation, as well as trying to figure out how the suspect obtained a RCMP uniform.
While officials have remained mum on many of these details, anti-gun politicians including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are already using the deaths to call for new gun controls, including a ban on “assault-style weapons.”
“I can say that we were on the verge of introducing legislation to ban assault-style weapons across this country,” Trudeau told reporters during his daily coronavirus briefing on Monday — a briefing that instead largely focused on the weekend shooting. “It was interrupted when the pandemic caused parliament to be suspended, but we have every intention of moving forward on that measure, and potentially other measures, when parliament returns.”
Gun control advocates are using the attack to push their agenda as well, with the group Doctors For Protection From Guns echoing Trudeau’s call for a gun ban in an open letter to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair.
We understand that prior to the pandemic your government had been preparing to act on election promises to restrict access to firearms. While we appreciate the capacity for substantive policy changes is difficult at this moment – and acknowledge your government’s efforts to respond to the gravity of the COVID-19 crisis and resulting consequences – we implore you to take one decisive, achievable action right now: ban the new sale of military style assault weapons. As has been well documented, these guns pose an excessive risk to public safety and serve no reasonable purpose.
Again, authorities haven’t even said what type of firearm was used in the attack in Nova Scotia, but that isn’t stopping these anti-gun groups from going ahead and demanding a ban on semi-automatic rifles. The specifics of the attack aren’t nearly as important to these activists compared to the opportunity to use these tragic deaths as a way to push their policies.
At this point, we don’t even know how many of the 22 individuals who were murdered died from gunshot wounds. While authorities say the killer stopped random cars and opened fire while in an RCMP uniform, police also believe that some of the victims may have died in a series of fires set by the suspect during his nearly 12-hour crime spree.
Authorities in Canada are also facing questions about the lack of an emergency alert letting residents know that the suspect was still on the loose and posed a danger to the community.
The RCMP issued warnings about the attacker on Twitter and Facebook, but no emergency alert was sent out. These alerts, typically used for Amber Alert child abductions, notify an individual’s cell phone to ensure they know of an ongoing emergency. They have also been used in some provinces to reinforce the importance of physical distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic…
Officials have been repeatedly pressed on why they didn’t use the system at any point during the 12-hour rampage, which left at least 22 dead across at least 15 different crime scenes, in addition to the perpetrator. During a Monday press conference, RCMP Chief Superintendent Chris Leather seemed to think there had been an emergency alert issued during the attack before a colleague told him only social media channels had been utilized.
“We have relied on Twitter, as my colleague said, because of the instantaneous manner that we can communicate. We’re aware that we have thousands of followers in Nova Scotia and felt that it was a way, a superior way to communicate this ongoing threat,” Leather said.
Using a social media platform instead of an emergency alert is a dumb idea, but using Twitter is remarkably stupid. The platform has just a fraction of the number of users of Facebook, but more importantly, even if every Nova Scotia resident had a Twitter account, they wouldn’t have received any alerts unless they were actively using the site. If the emergency alert system is already being used for things like Amber Alerts, why on earth wouldn’t authorities have used the system to warn residents that there was a man on a rampage in their communities?
I’m sure that Justin Trudeau and government officials would rather talk about banning guns than the failure of authorities to keep residents informed, but I hope that the Canadian people and press continue to question the lack of transparency and the inability of the government to keep residents safe. A gun ban wouldn’t have stopped this horrific crime, but lives could have been saved if the authorities had simply kept people informed about the threat that they faced.