BY NAWAB SINGH HEER-RET
Every Canadian’s heart goes out to the families of the victims of a senseless shooting that took place on the weekend in the province of Nova Scotia. Such an incident happening in a time, when the whole world is suffering the threat of an invisible virus, only adds to additional stress and fear for many citizens.
My main worry is that once such incidents occur, they have unholy tendencies of recurring time and again elsewhere too. Therefore, it falls on our authorities to first honestly investigate all aspects leading into these mass shootings and quickly take strong preventive measures. Based upon the very scant current information available, it suggests that the shooter, a 51 year-old denture fitter, was previously charged in 2002 for conviction for assault and was conditionally out with a ban from possessing fire arms. Secondly, the killer possessed weapons with plenty of ammunition.
Third, the killer had what appeared to be an authentic law enforcement uniform and a similarly painted RCMP car to drive around in. As the police continue to investigate the circumstances leading to this tragic incident and motive behind it, we must look into the few critical issues or lapses observed. Despite the legal restrictions placed on the criminal, how he could acquire a deadly weapon? Police have yet to confirm if the gun used was licensed or was illegally purchased. Second, how come the criminal was allowed to remain active for so long after the police received reports from neighbouring properties about a person having gone berserk and shooting people randomly?
It appears that the police failed to warn citizens of on looming threat of an active shooter in a professional way. The defence offered by police is that they thought they had informed through social media rather than through an Amber alert, but this explanation leaves many questions remaining on their training and preparation for such emergencies.
This gruesome incident has produced some serious lessons for the law enforcement agencies and administration for the future. One, persons with criminal records and performing practices of public dealings must be kept under very close surveillance, at least for the acquisition of weapons and ammunitions. This has emerged as a major failure of enforcement agencies. Second, we all are aware that Canada has much better control on the position of legal guns, but we need to look into the acquisition and possession of illegal weapons, since the statistics show that a major percentage of crimes are executed with illegal weapons versus legal ones.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reinforced his tough stance on gun control in a press conference earlier this week. At this moment, it seems to be the right direction, but placing limits on those who are keeping weapons legally, whereas major crimes continue to be done with illegal weapons, may suggest that further debate is needed before acting in a hurry. Third, there must be strict regulations and enforcement on possessing police uniforms and keeping similar vehicles.
This must be proclaimed once again through the country. Four, we have a very effective countrywide system of sharing urgent information, via the Amber Alert. It must be investigated as to why this method was not used in this incident. In future, we should suggest that police utilize multiple forms of communication platforms, not just on social media, but through AM/FM radios, Whatsapp and other platforms.
The importance of the issue of mental health has once again come to the forefront for our planners to invest in this more seriously. Lastly, this is the worst mass shooting in Canadian history. Administrations must take every possible action, from top to bottom, to ensure it doesn’t happen again. I look on with with great admiration for the officers who performed their duty in neutralising the shooter so well, and set an example in the world of policing. My sincere condolences to the family of young and daring act of, RCMP Constable Heidi Stevenson, a 23-year veteran of Canada’s famed police force, who at one point rammed her cruiser into the killer’s vehicle to try to stop him.
The killer was finally cornered at a gas station in a nearby town and brandished what is believed to have been Stevenson’s gun before being shot dead in a hail of police bullets, as told by a source. The heroics of our officers speaks volumes about the training, motivation and acts of beyond the call of duty.