TORONTO – The image of a man walking down a Moncton, N.B. street, dressed commando-style, with guns slung across both shoulders, will be forever etched into the minds of many Canadians.
The man is believed to be Justin Bourque, wanted in a shooting that left three RCMP officers dead and two wounded Wednesday night.
But what kinds of guns are these and what are they used for?
The guns appear to be an M14 semi-automatic rifle, or its similar M305, and a Mossberg 500 SPX 6-shot pump-action shotgun.
A redacted copy of the long gun registry, reflecting the data as it was in mid-2012, shows ten M-14 rifles registered in Moncton-area postal codes. All were made by Norinco or Poly Technologies, Chinese state-owned munitions companies.
Across the country, 6,048 were registered.
The data shows one Mossberg 500 Tactical shotgun, very similar to one Bourque is seen carrying in two images, registered to a Moncton-area resident on September 12, 2011.
Global News obtained the data under access-to-information laws.
The M14, a high-powered rifle, was standard issue infantry rifle for U.S. military in the 1960s and then later replaced by the M16 in 1970.
Global News spoke to a firearms expert and instructor in firearms safety, who didn’t want to be named. He told Global News that if Bourque was using an M14, a standard police vest wouldn’t stop the bullets.
“Most police vests would not stop a high-powered round,” he said. “They’re made for what we call low-velocity bullets, like hand guns.” He would not speculate as to what type of rounds Bourque may have been using.
Tactical teams, however, would be wearing vests that would include a steel trauma plate. The plates aren’t standard issue to most police forces because they are quite heavy.
J.R. Cox, owner of The Shooting Edge in Calgary, Alta., and Target Sports in Stouffville, Ont. said that the rifle looks like an M305, a knock-off of the M14.
“The M14 is actually a fully-automatic…the civilian version is the M1 or M1A made by Springfield, but the guy who bought the cheap Mossberg isn’t buying a $3000 M1A,” said Cox. “He’s buying the Norinco M305 copy.”
Cox said that the automatic M14 was prohibited in 1992. Those who owned the rifle prior to that year were grandfathered in and allowed to have them.
“The parent is the M14, so a lot of people say the M14, but it’s not,” said Cox. “Because you can’t have an M14.”
As well, Cox said it’s uncertain as to whether or not the shooter has high-capacity magazines.
The Mossberg, a 12-gauge, 6-shot gun, would typically be used for hunting or trap or skeet shooting.
“The body armour would stop those rounds,” the unnamed expert said. “Because a shotgun’s pellets spread out.”
Canada’s National Firearms Association, for its part, released a statement Thursday expressing condolences for the shooter’s victims and claiming the rampage proves ” that none of Canada’s firearms control efforts over the past 50 years have had any effect on preventing violence, or otherwise stopping bad people from carrying out their evil deeds.”
The statement called existing rules – which, since the abolishment of the long-gun registry mean the weapons apparently used are not only unrestricted but not subject to registration – “excessive,” and suggested the government focus on diagnosing and treating conditions that put people’s lives at risk.”