Less than 48 hours after a killing spree in Nova Scotia that left at least 18 people dead, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called for tighter gun control laws, including an outright ban on “assault weapons.”
“I can say that we were on the verge of introducing legislation to ban assault-style weapons across this country,” he told reporters, according to the Washington Post. “It was interrupted when the pandemic caused Parliament to be suspended, but we have every intention of moving forward on that measure, and potentially other measures, when Parliament returns.”
Authorities have not disclosed the type of firearm the mass murderer used or how he procured it. It is clear, however, that the suspect had been planning the attack for weeks and that law enforcement failed to stop the threat in a timely manner.
Rod Giltaca, chief executive of the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights, told the Post it was too soon to debate guns.
“Just shy of 24 hours past the tragedy in Nova Scotia, the gun-control lobby is leveraging this community’s suffering for their own political gain,” he said. “No law in this country could have stopped a madman with this level of determination and resources.”
The suspect began his killing spree around 10 p.m. on April 18th and was not apprehended until around noon on April 19th. Law enforcement was first alerted to a “firearms complaint” at the home of the suspect’s former girlfriend and her boyfriend. When they arrived, they found the bodies of both victims but no murderer.
After it became clear that a mass murderer was on the loose, police began advising local residents to lock their doors and stay in their basements, according to the Associated Press.
The suspect evaded authorities in part because he was driving a police cruiser and wearing what looked like a police uniform. A neighbor of the suspect told CNN that he had recently purchased two used police cars.
“His ability to move around the province undetected was surely greatly benefited by the fact that he had a vehicle that looked identical in every way to a marked police car,” said Chris Leather, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police chief superintendent and criminal operations officer in Nova Scotia. “He was wearing a police uniform which, as I say, was either a very good fabrication of or actually a police uniform. That surely contributed to his ability to circulate.”
After leaving his ex-girlfriend’s house, the murderer began randomly pulling people over and executing them. He also knocked on people’s doors and killed them in their homes before setting the homes on fire, according to a source interviewed by the Toronto Sun.
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In one incident, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constable Heidi Stevenson rammed the suspect’s car, but she was subsequently shot several times. The suspect then pulled Stevenson out of her car, executed her, and took her firearm and magazines. He also burned the car he had been driving and took her car, according to the Sun’s source.
Police finally caught up with the murderer at a gas station and shot him to death. The source claims he was still using Stevenson’s gun in the final shootout.
Authorities have not released what they believe to be the suspect’s motive.
Firearms, especially semi-automatic rifles and handguns, are already difficult to purchase in Canada. The process requires sixteen hours of class time, extensive background checks, membership in a shooting club (in some provinces), application for a license to own a handgun, firearm registration, application for a license to transport a firearm, and a requirement to store the handgun locked and unloaded.