Police display guns seized during a series of raids at a press conference in Toronto on Friday, June 14, 2013. The number of guns obtained legally in Canada but are then sold to people who use them for criminal purposes has surged dramatically in recent years compared to firearms smuggled from the United States, Toronto police say. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

Police display guns seized during a series of raids at a press conference in Toronto on Friday, June 14, 2013. The number of guns obtained legally in Canada but are then sold to people who use them for criminal purposes has surged dramatically in recent years compared to firearms smuggled from the United States, Toronto police say. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

Illegal guns sourced in Canada surge compared to those smuggled from U.S.

Legal Canadian gun owners are selling their weapons illegally, authorities say

The number of guns obtained legally in Canada but are then sold to people who use them for criminal purposes has surged dramatically in recent years compared to firearms smuggled from the United States, Toronto police say.

In recent years, they say, investigators have noticed a stark shift in where guns used to commit crimes are coming from.

Before 2012, about 75 per cent of the firearms were trafficked from the United States. By 2017, however, about half originated from domestic sources, putting an end to the idea that most of Canada’s illegal guns come from across the border, Det. Rob Di Danieli of the guns and gangs unit said.

Legal Canadian gun owners are selling their weapons illegally, Di Danieli said, noting that police have seen more than 40 such cases in recent years.

The allure of a quick sell at a high profit margin is one reason legal owners might sell their guns. One man sold 47 guns and made over $100,000 in a five month period, the detective said.

“They go get their licence for the purpose of becoming a firearms trafficker,” Di Danieli said. “A lot of people are so ready to blame the big bad Americans, but we had our own little problem here.”

The comments come as Toronto reels from a Sunday night handgun attack on a busy east-end street that left three people, including the gunman, dead and another 13 injured. The parents of the gunman, 29-year-old Faisal Hussain, said he struggled with psychosis and depression his entire life.

READ MORE: Ten-year-old girl, 18-year-old woman killed in Toronto shooting

Overall, understanding the source of guns used criminally has also taken on a new urgency in light of the city’s 220 shootings this year and 27 deaths as of July 9.

Mayor John Tory said domestic trafficking must be addressed in light of what he called the city’s “gun problem.”

“You’ve heard me ask the question of why anybody would need to buy 10 or 20 guns, which they can lawfully do under the present laws,” Tory said on Monday. ”Why does anyone in this city need to have a gun at all?”

Two weeks ago, Tory urged measures to allow better tracking of firearms in a way that is “not unduly intrusive.” Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders said recently it would be helpful if information could be shared between levels of government about suspicious purchases.

“The government would know that I have two kids, two cars,” Di Danieli said. “But if I bought 10 shotguns, they wouldn’t know that I had 10 shotguns.”

Earlier this year, the federal government introduced Bill C-71 aimed at tightening controls on handguns. Under the legislation, businesses would have to maintain inventory and transfer records for non-restricted firearms, allowing police to better trace firearms, a spokesman for Public Safety Canada said in a statement.

Jooyoung Lee, an associate professor at the University of Toronto who specializes in examining gun violence, said findings from recent years show many guns used to commit crimes in Canada have originated within the country. If civilians are able to buy firearms legally, there is always the possibility they will enter an illegal market, Lee said.

“Any time you have a legal market for civilians to own concealable firearms … there is always a possibility that those kinds of firearms purchased legally can flow into the hands of people who want to use them to commit carnage,” he said.

Although it is still unknown how the man behind Sunday’s mass shooting obtained the gun, Lee added that Bill C-71 would allow for more detailed background checks that would go further back into people’s history.

“A person who has a long history of mental health issues, including psychosis and depression, should not have access to firearms,” he said of Hussain. ”I think that’s something that people on the left and people on the right agree upon.”

Domenic Saverino, owner of Al Flaherty’s Outdoor Store in Toronto, said his shop is instructed to notify police if they feel uncomfortable about a gun purchase and have done so numerous times.

Saverino said the RCMP already has checks and balances in place to track suspicious purchases and implementing more measures won’t help.

Olivia Bowden, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fraser Health held a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib in Surrey, which would be in what the BCCDC refers to as the Panorama community, on Friday, May 7, 2021. Roughly 400 people pre-registered to get their vaccine the week before. (Photo: Lauren Collins
Surrey communities recording more COVID-19 cases also seeing lower vaccination rates

Those same communities were highlighted in the SPEAK survey, which highlighted disparities in the city

Twenty-nine staff members at Sunrise Poultry Processors Ltd. in Newton have tested positive for the virus, according to an information bulletin from Fraser Health Saturday (May 8). The health authority issued a 10-day closure order, effective May 7. (Image: Google Maps)
29 staff test positive for COVID-19 at Surrey poultry processing plant

Meantime, outbreak over at Surrey Memorial Hospital

The College of Massage Therapists of B.C. says Van (William) Dinh, a registered massage therapist in Surrey and Langley, has had his licence suspended while an inquiry committee panel investigates allegations of sexual misconduct. (Unsplash photo)
Surrey massage therapist suspended amid sexual misconduct investigation

CMTBC received complaint Van (William) Dinh allegedly exposed ‘sensitive areas of the patient’s body’

Hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil Friday evening (May 7) to remember 29-year-old corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, who was killed in last weekend’s brazen daylight shooting outside North Delta’s Scottsdale Centre mall. (James Smith photo)
Hundreds gather to remember victim of North Delta shooting

Corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, 29, was killed in what police say was a targeted incident

TEASER PHOTO ONLY
Surrey woman a face of World Ovarian Cancer Day campaign in London, New York

‘It’s so important we find better treatments,’ Catherine Eiswerth says

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

The dash cam footage, taken May 7 at 8:18 a.m. belonged to the driver of a southbound vehicle that recently travelled out of the tunnel. (Reddit/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Dash cam captures dramatic rollover crash on Highway 99

Only one person sustained injuries from the collision, says B.C. Ambulance Services

Chevy stranded on a ledge above a rocky canyon at Mimi Falls near Logan Lake, April 28, 2021. (Photo credit: Margot Wikjord)
Police officer and fire chief team up in risky rescue of stranded dog near Logan Lake

Chevy, a rescue dog, needed rescuing again after getting stuck on a ledge above rocky canyon

Police were on the scene of a fatal shooting in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. government to give more than $8 million for programs to curb gang violence

221 not-for-profit projects led by local governments and school districts among others will receive a one-time grant

Most Read