The numbers of zip guns being found on Winnipeg streets are increasing dramatically and Winnipeg police say they’re being mass manufactured and sold in the city.
“It is known that there are individuals in Winnipeg who are mass producing zip guns and selling them to those in the gang and drug sub-cultures,” said Insp. Max Waddell, who showed off a recent bust to media Tuesday.
“The improvised firearms that you see are capable of acting in the same capacity as a firearm,” he said, noting that they are identical to a regular gun, but much more unsafe.
“We have to take extraordinary precautions” to make sure those handling improvised weapons are not accidentally hurt, said Waddell.
“As these individuals are manufacturing, they are by no means trained in the art and science of gun manufacturing,” he said.
The guns are being made from copper tubing, bicycle parts and other easily found parts, he added.
Gun crime has been rising significantly in the past several years, he said.
The last three years have seen a particularly high increase, said Waddell, and that coincides with the rise of fentanyl and methamphetamine hitting Winnipeg’s streets.
Those high on meth become increasingly paranoid, said Waddell, and believe they need a weapon to protect themselves.
“I don’t know what it is about meth, but it causes people to see forms of violence, see that they’re constantly being attacked by a machete and things,” he said. From there, they procure a weapon out of a perceived need for safety, then end up using the weapon to commit property crimes, or theft from motor vehicles, he said.
In 2018, Winnipeg police seized 1,747 firearms from Winnipeg streets.
So far this year, six people have died from gun violence in Winnipeg.
In 2018, there were three homicides from gun violence, and seven in 2017.