“2023 is actually looking a bit lower than those years,” he said. “Not a huge drop, but about 10 per cent lower than the year before.”
CHANGING SUPPLY LINES
It’s not only the prevalence of guns that’s changed, but also how they get here. Stewart said in the wake of the federal government’s handgun ban, illegal firearms encountered by police are increasingly being traced back to the United States.
“Historically, before the handgun ban from the federal government, the majority of handguns [seized] were domestically trafficked,” Stewart said. He added that, in the past, most illegal guns were trafficked via theft or the act of straw-buying (where someone permitted to own firearms bought a gun for someone else who isn’t).
Stewart did note that straw-buying has typically made up a very small fraction of cases.
“We’ve seen a total shift where a lot of the handguns being seized are U.S.- sourced firearms imported illegally and then trafficked locally.”
If gun incidents are up in Edmonton, and throughout much of North America, then it would stand that a city as close as Calgary would be struggling with the same issue. And to a degree, it is. In mid-November, Calgary police responded to a rash of shootings — five in total — within just a few days. Still, Stewart says the degrees to which the two cities are struggling aren’t comparable.
“I would say Edmonton alone is seeing the majority of the increase,” he said. “We have a lot of gun violence, seeing a lot of guns and Calgary’s not in the same ballpark as us and they’re only three hours away.”