Guns are a growing problem in the city of Winnipeg, according to local law enforcement officials, and whether it’s due to drug addiction or gang activity, criminals are getting more creative in the weapons they use.
Winnipeg police Const. Jay Murray said while he did not have exact numbers, officers are seeing more and more instances of improvised weapons being used in robberies and assaults.
From canes to broomsticks to bicycles, Murray says criminals are using all manner of items to build homemade weapons.
“I think anything that they can get their hands on that has the shape of a tube can be used to create one of these firearms.”
Murray said they don’t know for certain what is behind the trend toward using improvised guns, but expects the Gun Amnesty program and an increased crackdown by officers on the street could be part of it.
In January, police were called to a report of a man with a shotgun outside a coffee shop. Officers were forced to Tazer a suspect when he refused to drop his weapon, which later turned out to be a metal pipe strapped to a long piece of wood.
Murray said the growing use of improvised weapons is a concern not only because they are being used for criminal activity, but because they present a public safety concern.
Incidents have occurred in Winnipeg and across Canada, where so-called zip-guns have gone off unexpectedly, injuring the suspect and persons nearby.
“These are very unsafe devices. You can imagine firearms go through a lot of safety checks before they are sold.“