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Police warn too many guns on Calgary streets are putting lives at risk

WATCH ABOVE: Police now say a string of shootings in northeast Calgary are actually part of a drug war playing out in the streets, and they’re worried about it. Global’s Mia Sosiak reports.

Calgary police say the number of shootings in the city is on the rise, and they’re blaming an increase in the availability of guns.

Police investigated 54 shooting incidents in all of 2014 but there have been 63 incidents so far this year, including seven gun-related murders. Police believe almost two-thirds of the shootings are drug-related, the majority of them targeted attacks.

“Disputes over drugs are nothing new,” said S/Sgt. Quinn Jacques. “But the use of guns to resolve them has now become the rule instead of the exception.”

Police say criminals are getting their hands on more guns through home break-ins and smash- and- grab robberies at sporting goods stores.  More guns are also being smuggled into the country.

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“We have never before seen this kind of accessibility and prevalence of guns in our community,” said Jacques. “Disputes over drugs are nothing new.”

“But the use of guns to resolve them has now become the rule instead of the exception. We are deeply concerned by this.”

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25 of the shootings in 2015 have been in the city’s northeast. Most of the bullets have hit homes, cars and other property and not people, but there’s always a risk they could.

“I’ve had a number of calls from people about this most recent shooting on Rundlehorn Drive that happened,” said Ward 5 Councillor Ray Jones. “It happened in front of a gentleman’s house, and he wants to know what would have happened if that bullet would have gone through his wall and hit his kid?”

Pat Okros lives on Rundlehorn Drive N.E., where the drug war is most intense, and fears for her safety.

“I’m not involved in a gang, I don’t do drugs at all, thankfully, but it’s getting worse. The last two years have been horrendous,” said Okros.

Last week, a young man wanted on drug warrants was gunned down in an SUV in front of her home. In January, a man was shot across the street and her neighbourhood grocery store was shot up.

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Police say up to 100 young men are involved in drug violence and police are targeting them.

“We are also looking at working with the groups to mediate the conflicts and come to some kind of peace accord,” said S/Sgt. Jacques.  We’ve done this in the past with groups in conflict.”

Those involved in the drug conflict are also being targeted by the Guns and Gangs Unit along with gang suppression teams.

Councillor Jones is urging residents to report any drug or other suspicious activity to police or Crime Stoppers.