Arsenal of weapons seized last month in Prince George during drug trafficking crackdown

© RCMP/Contributed These weapons were seized in a hotel room in downtown Prince George, by RCMP officers responding to a complaint of people not abiding by COVID-19 health rules.

The mayor of Prince George is “extremely concerned” about gun violence in Prince George, after RCMP seized an arsenal of weapons in the city last month.

Everything from semi-automatic rifles to handguns were confiscated, from places that included a backyard, a hotel room, and a Walmart parking lot.

“It’s [like] things that you see on television,” said Mayor Lyn Hall. “It’s things that you see in news reports out of other, larger cities. You don’t expect to see it here in Prince George.”

“The magnitude, the number of guns, I’ve not seen this before,” said Hall.

“If you live next door to a home where somebody’s shot, somebody’s killed … there’s a risk to the neighbourhood,” said the mayor.

© Andrew Kurjata/CBC RCMP officers investigate a crime at a house that was targeted three times by drive-by shooters in October.

Hall says the high number of gun seizures is testament to the RCMP’s success in cracking down on local crime.

After a spate of violent attacks in 2020, Prince George officers have been tracking down street level drug dealers, with help from the Uniformed Gang Enforcement Team.

The result is an increase in the number of seized firearms, said Const. Jennifer Cooper, media relations officer with Prince George RCMP.

In one incident last month, officers responding to a complaint about people breaking COVID-19 public health rules discovered four firearms, a gun replica, and ammunition hidden in a hotel room.

Cooper said it’s difficult to trace the source of the illegal guns.

© Catherine Hansen/CBC More than 2,000 students at three schools and children from a playground were locked inside as a precaution after a drive-by shooting and police chase in Prince George in October 2020.

She said some were stolen, some were never registered, and many have been tampered with so their serial numbers were scratched off.

“They often change hands a few times before we come into contact with them,” said Cooper.

RCMP are reminding local gun owners to lock up their registered firearms in a secure place and avoid talking online or at the gun range about where their weapons are stored.

“Easily accessed firearms are a high priority target for thieves,” said Cooper.

But the way gun owners store their weapons isn’t the problem, according to National Firearms Association president Sheldon Clare, who lives in Prince George.

“Canada’s safe storage laws don’t prevent the theft of firearms and have no effect upon those of ill intent,” he said. “Criminals will always be able to get access to weaponry … completely independent of gun control [measures].”

Clare praises Prince George RCMP for taking illegal guns off the street.

But he says the firearms themselves “aren’t of special concern — only the criminal intent of those who use them.”

Back in 2011, Maclean’s magazine declared Prince George “Canada’s most dangerous city,” a dubious distinction the city held for three years in a row. At the time, the magazine stated that gang wars and drug abuse were partly to blame for the city’s crime rate.

Source: CBC News