The RCMP have released more details from their Feasibility and Practicality of Improvised Full Automatic Fire study first discussed in October. Although a copy of the report has not been made available to Calibre as yet, we have requested it through the Access to Information office, but the CBC has additional details.
The long and short of the CBC article is the allegation that 11 rifles and one handgun can be converted to fully automatic fire through an improvised technique referred to by Moncton shooter Justin Bourque. Bourque claims to have considered using the technique while planning his shooting spree, but even the mentally unhinged Bourque found it too unreliable and ineffective to employ.
However, that hasn’t stopped the RCMP from considering the technique a grave concern to public safety, and the report has been forwarded to the Minister of Public Safety, Ralph Goodale. According to the CBC article, Goodale’s office responded to the report thusly: “We will work with all levels of government, our stakeholders and the Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee to move forward on this commitment.”
Not surprisingly, the study of a technique introduced to the RCMP by a deranged psychopath is rife with inconsistencies, as the RCMP report alleges that the availability of firearms that can be improvised to fire in a fully automatic condition is a new problem, saying “The restricted and prohibited firearm provisions of Criminal Code regulations were last updated in 1995, and there are presently numerous models of military and paramilitary firearms on the Canadian market which are outside the scope of the Criminal Code regulations, many being non-restricted in classification” and “The Canadian introduction of new types of military and paramilitary firearms not mentioned in the Criminal Code regulations, nearly all with large capacity magazines sizes, started circa 2005 and has accelerated since.”
That claim runs amiss of the RCMP’s own classification data, as the RCMP claim that the Norinco M305 used by Bourque (designed in the 1930s, imported into Canada in the 1980’s) and even more tellingly, the Ruger Mini 14 (designed in the late 1960s and first imported in 1973) used by Polytechnique shooter Marc Lepine are both among the 11 rifles found to be susceptible to this improvised technique. But both firearms were extant in Canada in 1995, during the initial creation of the Criminal Code regulations, and both firearms were studied, tested, examined and classified by the RCMP as non-restricted in that process. Neither have been significantly updated since nor have their magazines been revised. Until we receive a copy of the report from our own ATIP request, we cannot confirm the identification of the other 11 rifles on the list, but given the volume of new FRT entries issued for legitimately new rifle designs we suspect the majority of those 11 rifles were similarly classified in 1995.
As a result, the only conclusion one can reach from the incorrect statement that this issue stems largely from firearms imported and classified under Harper’s Conservatives, is that the RCMP are hoping to win the sympathies of the Liberal government by pinning this perceived problem on the previous Conservative government. By claiming rifles classified by their own firearms program in 1995 somehow became problematic in 2005, the RCMP are essentially sidestepping any culpability themselves, while simultaneously discrediting the former government.
But all that said, the biggest issue is that the entire report is essentially the study of a complete non-issue, as Criminal Code Section 102(1) clearly states that converting a firearm to fully automatic status is entirely illegal. Additionally, the insinuation that the RCMP would like to act upon the outcome of this report due to the fact that “the public safety threat posed by improvised conversion to full automatic fire has correspondingly increased,” makes little to no sense since their claim that this “threat to public safety” has been festering since 2005 seems to run contrary with the number of violent shootings involving fully automatic rifles grabbing headlines since 2005: None.
The CBC article can be viewed and commented on here.