Coping with guns, the violence and crime rates they bring

Durham police are well trained and always prepared for a gun related crimes around their jurisdiction, says Sgt. Leon Presner of the Durham Regional Police Services (DRPS).

While our police services is prepared for such events, our neighbours to the south are dealing with another tragic shooting.

On Oct. 1 there was a mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The shooter, 26-year-old Chris Harper-Mercer, fatally shot ten people (including himself) and wounded seven others in his rampage across campus.

“If by chance someone attacks a school we are prepared, our Tactical Support Unit is always prepared and we have trained for such events especially in the wake of tragedies across the border,” said Sgt. Presner, who wants to try and squash a potential rise in fears of these events happening here.

Harper-Mercer’s father Ian Mercer told media he believes his son had some kind of mental health issues that led to him committing this heinous act.

These crimes are few and far between in Durham Region. Annual reports from DRPS state that crimes involving guns have been dropping over the last five years. These numbers are down almost 50 per cent in each category of gun-related offences.

There has been an outcry for years from some Americans who want stricter laws, to cut the amount of guns in the hands of citizens because it’s “easier to buy a gun than it is to go to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles),” said Sgt Presner.

Each state in the U.S. has different laws for owning and using firearms, however, the second amendment in the U.S. Constitution allows for any citizen to have guns.

The laws here in Canada differ greatly thanks to the Federal Firearms Act and Criminal Code. “These laws govern how the public can acquire them, the licensing, the training, and the usage of firearms,” said Sgt. Presner.

Because of these laws, Canada ranks 13th in the world in terms of gun homicides and ownership of a gun, according to statistics from the Washington Post.

Here in Canada we have 30.8 guns per 100 people, there are almost 10-million civilian guns across the country, and there are 0.51 gun related homicides per 100-thousand people.

Comparable numbers are drastically higher in the U.S.

America ranks number one in the world for gun homicides and ownership.

There are 88.8 guns per 100 people, 270-million civilian guns, and a gun homicide rate of 3.2 per 100-thousand people.

While gun violence does happen here on occasion police blame illegal guns for that, according to Sgt. Presner.

“I can confidently say that they are either imported illegally from the United States or they are acquired illegally in Canada via break-in.”

While the FBI stated in Sept. 2014 that mass shootings in America have been on the rise over the last decade, with 366 deaths in the last seven years, Sgt. Presner thinks we don’t have to worry about those kind of shootings happening at schools around us thanks to low gun rates and the preparedness of Canadian police forces.