Three people were killed in broad daylight from “crossbow bolt injuries” in an east-end Toronto neighbourhood Thursday.
It wasn’t the first time a person has been killed by a crossbow in the city. In December 2010, a man fired a bolt into his father’s back at a Toronto Public Library branch. He was sentenced to life in prison on a charge of second-degree murder.
The deadly weapons, though uncommon in homicide investigations, are surprisingly easy to get your hands on.
Although listed as a firearm, a licence isn’t required to buy or own a crossbow and the hunting weapons are not regulated.
Anyone over the age of 18 can walk into a sporting goods store and walk out with a weapon capable of firing a small arrow or ‘bolt’ up to 500 feet per second.
The RCMP’s Canadian Firearms Program does institute a few rules in terms of the types of crossbows that are legally allowed to be purchased and owned in Canada. The smaller the crossbow, the more likely it will be outlawed.
“Crossbows that can be aimed and fired with one hand and crossbows with an overall length of 500 mm or less are prohibited,” The program states.
The program then acknowledges that a valid licence or registration certificate is not required and that any Criminal Code offences associated with the weapons have not been brought into force.
Dale Lounsbury, who sells crossbows at a sporting goods store in Waterloo, Ont., and owns one himself, said they can be dangerous due to their power and accuracy. But they are not suited to firing multiple shots in quick succession, he said.
“Crossbows are not a rapid-fire instrument at all,” Lounsbury said. “I can probably fire two shots a minute, maybe three.”
However, the accuracy and force of those shots are why the weapons are one of the more popular options for hunting big game like moose, bears and deer.
No motive has been given for the recent crossbow homicides in east-end Toronto, but the event has shaken residents of the community and made some concerned over the weapon of choice used.
“I’m surprised. I’m shocked. I’m very shocked, I’ve lived here for 21 years,” said neighbour Laura Marks.
With a file from The Associated Press