Surrey RCMP have now been called to more than 30 shots fired incidents in 2016.
While there has only been one death as a result of the gunfire thus far (as of Wednesday), there have been five injuries. Nine buildings have been struck.
Perspective is important. The 30-plus shots fired incidents represent half of all such incidents reported to police last year. That was a year in which police and members of the public both made it clear there were a staggering number of shots fired. If this year’s incidents continue at the same rate, there will be twice as many in 2016.
While most of these incidents are related to drugs, gangs and fights over turf, that is cold comfort to Surrey residents. Many of these shooters are very inaccurate. That means the likelihood of shots hitting an innocent person, vehicle or residence are quite high. While most incidents take place in the later evening hours, that doesn’t mean an innocent person won’t be struck.
Such a situation happened last year in Abbotsford, where an innocent man in his yard was struck and killed by gunfire that had been aimed at a neighbouring residence. The drug turf war in that city strongly resembles the one in Surrey, and some of the players are the same.
Surrey RCMP Supt. Manny Mann said at a press conference Friday that “I can confirm that five of the 28 incidents (as of last Friday) are associated to a new drug-related conflict between two groups.”
After that press conference, there were two shooting incidents on the weekend. In one on Saturday, one person was seriously injured when shot near Kirkbride Elementary at 92 Avenue and 122 Street. The next day, there was a shooting near 88 Avenue and 132 Street, near Surrey Firehall 1.
It is obvious that the shooting situation is completely out of control. While police know some of the people involved, any arrests they may have made haven’t stopped the spate of shots fired. Surrey may have a large extra contingent of police officers, as promised by politicians and funded by taxpayers, but that is having little effect on the indiscriminate shooting.
Several points need to be made. One is that the guns used in these shootings are almost all handguns – and most of those guns are coming in illegally from the U.S., where it is easy to buy a handgun. Most people now seem to realize handguns are the weapon of choice for criminals, and that any gun control measures proposed in Canada are completely useless in stopping such shootings.
Another point is that the pending legalization of marijuana, as planned by the federal Liberal government, will not stop the gang wars over drugs. While some of the gangs currently fighting in Surrey may be trying to elbow others out of the marijuana business, that is likely just a small component.
If and when marijuana is available legally at stores, drug gangs will simply find other business. Indeed, much of their business today is in other lines. At Friday’s press conference, the RCMP also unveiled the results of a recent huge drug seizure which included heroin, cocaine, crystal methamphetamine, fentanyl and fake oxycontin was seized from a vehicle in March.
The drug business is a big business. Those involved stand to make a lot of money, and many of them also are likely to die young. Meanwhile, other innocent people are at risk as the gangsters continue to shoot at each other from cars, set up ambushes, shoot into houses and bring mayhem and trouble to many Surrey neighbourhoods.
It will be interesting to see what, if anything, the city and Surrey RCMP are able to do to reduce the number of shots fired incidents.