The death toll from the worst mass shooting in Canadian history rose to 23 this morning. Authorities say it could go higher.
The gunman, Gabriel Wortman, a denturist in Nova Scotia, began his rampage on Saturday night after donning an authentic Mounties uniform and detailing his car to look like a police cruiser. He proceeded to 16 different crime scenes, killing people, including a policewoman, and setting several houses afire. Authorities are still sifting through the rubble where they may find even more victims.
While the RCMP have yet to identify the weapon used in the murder spree, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at his coronavirus press conference that his party would introduce a ban on assault-style weapons once parliament is back in session.
“I can say that we were on the verge of introducing legislation to ban assault-style weapons across this country,” Trudeau said during Monday’s daily coronavirus briefing, which centered largely on the weekend’s tragedy. Police in Nova Scotia have yet to release what kind of weapon was used in the attack.
“It was interrupted when the pandemic caused parliament to be suspended, but we have every intention of moving forward on that measure, and potentially other measures, when parliament returns,” Trudeau added, according to Canadian outlet CTV.
Trudeau took the standard pro-gun control positions during his 2019 campaign, even wanting to allow provinces to ban handguns.
During the 2019 federal elections, Trudeau campaigned on tightening Canada’s gun laws by banning all military-style assault weapons and helping provinces or territories to issue their own handgun bans. “Canadians are tired of excuses and know that ‘thoughts and prayers’ don’t make our communities any safer,” Trudeau’s Liberal party wrote in its platform.
It’s not likely any gun control measure would have stopped Wortman from going on his rampage.
The RCMP is coming under mounting criticism for their curious response to the more than 12-hour killing spree.
The RCMP has been criticized for not alerting the public to the presence of an active shooter via the province’s emergency alert system and instead relying on its Twitter account, which had just under 91,000 followers at the time.
Nova Scotia RCMP Chief Superintendent Chris Leather told reporters on Monday the force felt it was a “superior way to communicate” the threat in the community, but said [the force would look into the matter.
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said the province had not received a request from police for an emergency alert to be sent out. McNeil said the military was assisting in the RCMP’s investigation.
Police have not said anything about the motive in the killing, or where Wortman got his weapon. In fact, there are many questions about the shootings that either remain unknown or unanswered. The RCMP has yet to process the multiple crime scenes. Until then, all we have are grieving friends and relatives of the dead.