The province’s illegal firearms task force visited Williams Lake this week, meeting with Mayor Walt Cobb and Chief Administrative Officer Milo MacDonald.
“Three RCMP members were here and are touring the province,” Cobb told the Tribune. “They wanted to know what the issues are in Williams Lake dealing with illegal firearms.”
Education, legislation and enforcement are the three topics the task force is trying to get a handle on, Cobb said.
“They need to get legislation in place to try and control illegal guns, they want education because some youth do not realize the impact of guns.”
The task force also talked about more C.O.R.E. training for youth as well, he added.
Cobb said at the end of the day he thinks the charges for people caught with illegal firearms need to be more stringent.
“Quite often gang members have guns in their cars and the task force is wondering if that should prohibit someone from never having a driver’s licence again?” he said.
The task force was given specific mandate to talk to key stakeholders and experts,” said Minister of Public Safety Mike Morris.
“We want the task force to identify gaps and what needs to be done to combat illegal possession and use of firearms within B.C. “
It is expected the task force will develop some options and recommendations that the province can use to deal with the problem.
“I’m not going to speculate at this time what those might be — the task force needs to do its work with open minds and fulfill its objectives and report back to us,” Morris said, noting the task force is examining current provincial and federal firearms legislation; interdictions; enforcement strategies along with educational and resource strategies related to illegal firearms.
“They are going to report out to us in the spring and we look forward to that report,” Morris said.
When Morris announced the task force in September 2016, he said it had been given $200,000 in funding.
In 2015, there were over 2,000 incidents involving the criminal use of firearms in B.C. including such offences as homicide, attempted homicide, robbery, assault, uttering threats, break and enters and careless use.
During the investigation of these incidents over 3,000 illegal firearms were seized by law enforcement personnel.