Cities mull tough gun bylaws after gang shootings
As RCMP investigators gathered evidence Wednesday at the scene of British Columbia's latest gang shooting, some area politicians said they're taking matters into their own hands when it comes to getting guns off the streets.
The Lower Mainland municipalities of Delta, Port Coquitlam, and New Westminster are all considering bylaws that would restrict the sale of firearms within city limits.
A gang war in full swing
The motions come after a wave of violence that has seen at least 20 people killed in more than four dozen shootings since mid-January in the Vancouver region.
A recent period of relative calm shattered Tuesday night when a man was shot several times inside a Burnaby parking garage and rushed to hospital in serious condition.
"At this time, this incident appears to be a targeted hit and has all the earmarks of being gang-related," RCMP Cpl. Alexandra Mulvihill said, in a refrain that's become all too familiar for Lower Mainland residents.
Mulvihill identified the victim as Peter Adiwal and said he is well known to police. She declined to elaborate on that connection and wouldn't say if Adiwal was a known gang member.
But Sgt. Shinder Kirk with the B.C. Integrated Gang Task Force said "everyone within the policing community is aware of Mr. Adiwal and his history and his associations."
Witnesses reported hearing as many as 12 shots before seeing two vehicles speeding out of the parkade.
Investigators spent Wednesday speaking with witnesses and piecing together information.
Calm in the storm
The shooting comes after a lull in regional gun violence that coincided with the recent arrests of men police say are high-ranking members of rival gangs. Mulvihill said that lull might be a coincidence.
"This lull, I don't think we can 100 per cent attribute it to the recent arrests that have been made," she said.
"Obviously, we made a big impact, we took out some of the big players so of course that helps, but I don't think we can predict gangs or gang activity."
Kirk said gun violence tends to move in cycles, although that cycle may be affected by a flurry of arrests.
"A period of numerous arrests, whether it be one group or another group or even individuals at the street level, it does have that effect to reduce some of the activity but that's only one cycle," he said.
"Another cycle could occur at any point. What happened (Tuesday) is that the start of the circle or is that part and parcel of anything that might have been ongoing prior to the arrests that were made public? Or could it be something else completely different?"
Delta Mayor Lois Jackson said her city's proposed bylaw came about as a direct result of the spate of Metro Vancouver shootings.
"I think almost everybody in the Lower Mainland is looking at the number of guns that are around these days," she said.
"It's bubbled to the surface and local governments appear to be looking at their own rules and regulations now to make sure we're doing the right thing."
The Delta gun bylaw would outlaw the sale, bartering, warehousing, storage or distribution of firearms in the city.
Jackson said the proposed bylaw is currently being reviewed by staff to shore up any potential ambiguities.
She stressed that the city does not want to punish existing, legitimate gun owners, but does want to reduce the number of guns within city limits.
"We don't want to be punitive, on the one hand, but we also want to make sure we know what's going on in our own community," Jackson said.
Cities pushing back
Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore said his residents grew concerned after the owners of a local gun shop were linked by Mounties to the illegal gun trade.
City councillors voted to revoke the shop's business licence in March after weapons trafficking and possession charges were laid against owners Shahriar Tavazoie and Maryam Behagh.
Moore said Port Coquitlam's bylaw would primarily target businesses that sell just guns and ammunition.
"The bylaw that's coming forward restricts the sales of firearms to 10 per cent of the floor area," he said.
"We don't want to restrict legitimate users of firearms or ammunition but we want to make sure that we don't have gun shops in Port Coquitlam."
When asked if the onus is on municipal governments to pass stricter gun laws that provincial and federal governments won't, Moore said everyone needs to be part of the solution.
"To date, I would say the provincial government has been responsive to our requests. My understanding is they're moving forward as fast as they can to make changes (but) some of it is a federal issue," he said.
"I think many of us feel that a lot of these changes needed to be made over the last decade or so instead of in reaction to what's happening now. A lot of our laws didn't keep pace with the violence that we're seeing in the streets now and the proliferation of gun use in the streets."
He said police are doing a great job with the tools at their disposal, but called for legislative changes so officers can get ahead of the criminals.
As part of its provincial election agenda, B.C.'s Liberal Party vowed to crack down on gangs and gun crimes by hiring more police officers, prosecutors, and focusing more on the gun trade.