Articles about crime are always a double-edged sword. On the one hand, people may feel relief that the person or persons who may be responsible for some crime or another have been arrested and, assuming police got the right people, potentially less likely to commit further crimes either now or in the future because of either recognizance or bail conditions or, perhaps, time in custody, either while awaiting trial or after a trial, if they are convicted and sentenced to jail time.
On the other hand, it can be disturbing to realize what sorts of things our fellow city residents are up to.
Take the last couple of weeks, for example, when Manitoba RCMP issued news releases about two incidents on consecutive days, one involving a shot actually being fired, in which alleged drug dealers were walking the streets of Thompson carrying loaded handguns.
Arrests on Nov. 18 and 19 resulted in the seizure of not only two handguns, which are essentially illegal to carry around in public in Canada, but also of four modified shotguns, as well as body armour.
The fact that the people police say were carrying these guns were also in possession of drugs, specifically cocaine, may make some people feel like the potential for violence is reduced, as the people toting guns are only doing so for protection because they are engaged in illicit drug-dealing, which can be a risky business. Thus, the logic goes, anyone not involved in such activities is unlikely to be a target.
What’s disquieting, however, is that people who end up getting shot aren’t always the shooter’s target.
As mentioned above, one of the incidents in recent weeks involved a shot apparently being fired, according to what was reported to Thompson RCMP. Last month, there were two incidents in which residences in Thompson had gunshots fired through their windows. None of these incidents resulted in anyone getting hurt, but the potential for it to happen was there. When you’re outside a home shooting into it, you probably don’t know exactly where the people inside are or what obstacles that could potentially block a bullet there are between the nozzle of the gun and a person. Even without intending to, a person can shoot someone else, potentially ending their life, without even actually seeing them.
Though shootings are far from common in Thompson, it is disturbing to know how many guns there are floating around the city, in the possession of people who feel their life is sufficiently in danger as to wear body armour to protect themselves. We aren’t talking about rifles used for hunting, here. These are handguns and shotguns which have been modified in such as way as to make them probably less than ideal for hunting. As incidents in Colorado Springs and Chesapeake, Virginia south of the border showed people this week, guns, even legal ones, in the wrong hands, are a serious threat to safety. If Thompson doesn’t want to be thought of as a crime capital of Canada, getting guns out of the hands of drug dealers on the street is a step in the right direction, even though the actual act of seizing them and laying charges results in a worse Crime Severity Index score.