Handguns a ‘hot commodity’ in Winnipeg as gun crimes increase

As Winnipeg grapples with a rash of stabbings thus far in 2022 — with a recent report from police citing an average of two incidents every 13 days — another problem on city streets is growing gun crime, with a specific focus on handguns.

Winnipeg cops seized numerous weapons, as well as a large number of illegal drugs, at a raid on the weekend — a seizure that included a loaded 3D-printed ‘ghost’ gun.

Insp. Elton Hall told 680 CJOB there’s been an increase in illegal firearm activity in the city over the past year and a half, and police remain concerned about the growth.

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Hall said many of the guns arrive in Canada illegally from the United States, coming across the border via personal vehicles, trucks or trains, and are often stolen and/or have obliterated serial numbers.

“A significant amount (of gun violence) is linked to street gangs, but there’s also an issue with organized crime and gun trafficking in Canada,” he said.

“Most of the illegal gun usage in Winnipeg and in Canada is from organized crime or gang activity.”

Read more: Winnipeg police seize 3D-printed handgun in drug raid

Hall said while gun crime isn’t anything new for the city, the particular weapons used have changed drastically in recent years.

“(Recently) it’s been handguns — stolen handguns,” he said. “For lack of a better word, they’re a hot commodity in Winnipeg. They’re easy to conceal, they’re easy to use, they’re interchangeable.

“It’s a new world for policing … when I was a junior police officer 20 years ago, if there was a gun call, you would rush to that call because it was such a different call.

“Now, you’re getting multiple gun calls or gun violence calls a night. It just changes the dynamic of policing totally.”

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Hall said ghost guns, such as the untraceable 3D-printed weapon found in Sunday’s seizure, are fairly new to Winnipeg, showing up more frequently over the past three-to-six months.

The police service has changed its business plan, he said, to put a focus on gun issues, gun control and gun arrests.

“We work closely with the community … there’s a lot of people in the city who are very concerned with gun violence.”

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