Trends in firearms and violent crimes report not surprising to Sask. RCMP

Saskatchewan RCMP say firearm-related violent offences have increased by 43 per cent in their jurisdiction over the past five years.

A Statistics Canada report was released on Monday outlining the firearms and violent crimes trends seen across Canada, noting that the province has the third-highest rate of firearm violent crime in the country, and that northern Saskatchewan has ranked first in crimes involving firearms for seven years consecutively.

Read more: Northern Sask. firearm crime rate over 4 times national average in 2021, report finds

RCMP sent a statement noting that they weren’t surprised by the statistics, and proceeded to describe the impacts these crimes have had in the province.

The statement noted that northern Saskatchewan recorded 384 incidents of firearm-related violent offences in 2021, up from 219 in 2017.

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“As the provincial police service, it’s our duty to focus on the people behind these numbers. Each one of the incidents outlined above had at least one victim impacted by violence and trauma,” the statement read.

“Statistics tell part of the story. But only our Saskatchewan RCMP officers and the communities they serve experience the vivid and alarming truth of how firearm-related violence impacts northern and west-central Saskatchewan,” Chief Supt. Ted Munro said.

“Our communities can tell you about the fear that firearms and gang violence create. Our police officers will tell you they are seizing more dangerous firearms – including handguns and disturbingly, many sawed-off long guns. These concealable weapons, particularly the illegally modified ones that could malfunction, present extra risk to our communities and police officers.”

The statement from RCMP said they removed 1,377 firearms from communities in 2021, noting that as of Thursday they have removed 1,397 this year.

Read more: Saskatchewan opposes handgun freeze, saying it will not reduce crime

It added that out of the firearms seized in 2021, 66 per cent of them were non-restricted rifles and 22 per cent of them were non-restricted shotguns.

“Saskatchewan RCMP officers do amazing work each and every day, in every corner of this province. We’ve had many successes removing illegally possessed, dangerous firearms from the streets – and charging those who choose to use and illegally traffic them. Just this week, for instance, Creighton RCMP seized five rifles and two handguns from a residence,” Munro said.

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“But I will be honest – we could do more. The firearm-related danger and investigational complexities have increased in Saskatchewan. Our resources have not. The increase in firearm-related violence is stretching our resources – it means we often have to reprioritize our response to non-violent crime. It means our officers carry an unreasonable workload and endure long hours, risking their well-being.”

Munro added that if there were more staff and officers, they could be more proactive, rather than reactive, noting that they could work more with the youth, offer crime prevention programming and work more often with community leaders and partners.

“Sometimes we feel like we are putting out fires, but it is challenging to address the source of ignition at the same time.”

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