Proliferation of weapons in city poses constant threat, say police

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 August, 2007, 12:00am

While Vancouver has experienced a 60 per cent drop in shooting incidents in the first seven months of 2007 compared with the same time a year ago, the shooting in a central Vancouver Chinese restaurant has shown there is little to celebrate.

Police estimate they seize one weapon a day.

'We're very concerned that Vancouver is dealing with situations where there's a lot of handguns, high-quality handguns, a lot more automatic weapons, machine pistols,' said Bob Rich, the city's deputy police chief.

According to Canada's Department of Justice, handguns were used in 63.4 per cent of killings involving firearms in 1994. This had risen to 72 per cent by 2004.

Vancouver placed first among eight Canadian cities for firearm death rates between 1994 and 2004, according to statistics compiled by the federal justice department. The country's third-largest city ran slightly ahead of Toronto with a 0.85 rate per 100,000 of population compared with 0.81 for Toronto.

Firearm murder and manslaughter cases accounted for an average 25 per cent of all killings in Vancouver, which ranked fourth in Canada for the decade after Quebec City, Toronto and Montreal.

Last year, the Ontario government pledged US$51 million to fight the threat of guns and gang violence in Toronto.