Durham Regional Police and other services in the GTA are beginning to see an increase in the use of starter pistols as crime weapons.
In the past two weeks, Durham Regional Police have seized four starter pistols that were used in the commission of crimes or intended for that purpose. All four looked like real handguns. One of the pistols had been modified in order for it to fire real bullets – a major concern for law enforcement officers everywhere. It is has been sent away for laboratory testing to determine if it can discharge a bullet.
Chief Constable Mike Ewles is approaching local politicians in hopes they can help lobby the government to place tighter controls on the sale of starter pistols. He’s also hoping some design changes can be introduced so any possible conversion to real weapons can be prevented.
“Something needs to be done to tighten up the purchase, ownership and conversion options,” he says, “It’s becoming very clear to us that criminals have turned to these devices to threaten and intimidate victims and, in some cases, may have successfully adapted them to become real guns.”
There are no licences or permits required to purchase a starter pistol in Ontario. They are sold in some specialty stores and have no legal restrictions related to their sale. The sale of these items are only limited to the retailers in-store policy.
The DRPS is working closely with the Provincial Weapons Enforcement Unit and neighbouring police services to understand the scope of the problem in the GTA and to look at legislative options to curtail the problem.
If you know of someone with a modified starter pistol, please contact the DRPS Guns and Gangs Unit at 1-888-579-1520 ext. 5802. Anonymous information can be sent to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or www.durhamregionalcrimestoppers.ca and tipsters may be eligible for a $2,000 cash reward.
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