3D-printing playing a role in rise of gun crime in Manitoba

FILE - This Nov. 27, 2019, file photo shows "ghost guns" on display at the headquarters of the San Francisco Police Department in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Haven Daley, File). HD ER MS

Manitoba has become one of many regions in the country with growing incidents of violent crime. The upward trend is most prominent in firearm-related violence.

According to StatsCan, there were nearly 60 victims to 100,000 residents — a 14 per cent increase from the previous year which added 96 new victims.

“There’s a small percentage of people in Winnipeg that need illegal guns … generally people in gangs or drug networks, (or) organized crime figures,” said Insp. Elton Hall of the Winnipeg firearms investigation and enforcement unit.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Hall gave an update on the Winnipeg Police Service’s recent investigation into an 18-year-old accused of manufacturing and processing 3D-printed “ghost guns.” Glock-style printed components and an AR15-style gun were seized from his residence.

About five years ago, concerns over the use of 3D-printed guns in the United States prompted Canadian officials to rule the making of such firearms could land individuals in prison.

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Manufacturing or possessing a firearm is illegal in Canada without the proper license and registration certificate, according to a statement from Public Safety Canada in 2018.

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The federal government hasn’t outright banned 3D-printed guns or handguns, however, despite rising concerns of their growing use.

Bill C-21, introduced in 2021, aims to “protect Canadians from firearm-related harm.” The Act offers gun control amendments such as making it an offence to alter a cartridge magazine and increasing the terms of imprisonment for weapons smuggling.

Click to play video: 'Ghost guns new to Winnipeg'
Ghost guns new to Winnipeg

As for the issue of rising crime, Winnipeg police have noted the number of shootings was at its highest in the first quarter of this year, compared to previous years. They seized 186 guns in the first three months of 2023.

Data from WPS shows there were approximately 68 incidents of firearm offences in the city last year.

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Community outreach worker Mitch Bourbonniere said he remains worried that there are now more guns out in the streets – guns that could easily be made through 3D printing.

“The problem is we get a flood of weapons out on the streets. Those can end up in anybody’s hands, including children,” said Bourbonniere. “There is always going to be a (criminal) business out there and it’s always going to require weaponry.”

He said a weapon like this can be used in many ways, including intimidation and actual violence. The safety of the general public, he said, is at the forefront.

But for now, Bourbonniere said any attempts at curtailing the use of 3D-printed guns can be sidestepped as people utilize loopholes that take them away from the scrutiny of authorities.

Click to play video: 'Manitoba man pleads guilty in 3D-printed ‘ghost gun’ case'
Manitoba man pleads guilty in 3D-printed ‘ghost gun’ case

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