As police hunted for Justin Bourque in a wooded area in suburban Moncton, N.B., this week, one of the primary concerns officers dealt with was determining exactly what weapons he was carrying with him,
Based on a widely circulated image of the suspect, B.C.-based firearms instructor Rod Giltaca identified the two long guns Bourque was carrying as a semi-automatic centre-fire rifle — possibly an M14 or a cheaper knockoff version — and a pump-action shotgun. Both guns can be obtained legally and are commonly used by hunters, he said.
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The rifle is favoured by many military marksmen for its accuracy at distance.
It is possible Bourque was better armed than the Mounties that were called to the scene, retired RCMP deputy commissioner Doug Lang told CBC News.
"We don’t outpower all the big guns out there," Lang said.
He said the RCMP has a program to get better rifles into the hands of Mounties across Canada, but he’s not sure what guns the New Brunswick officers carried.
Bourque’s arsenal — witnesses who saw him leave the trailer park where he lives said he was also carrying a crossbow and a large quantity of ammunition — prompted a cautious approach to the manhunt. It’s also raised questions about how he obtained the guns and if anything could have been done to stop him.
Pro-gun group slams firearms rules
On Thursday, Canada’s National Firearms Association (NFA) released a public statement attacking Canada’s gun control laws, calling them excessive yet ineffective.
"The NFA deplores the terrible actions by a clearly deranged individual that led to these deaths and injuries," the group said.
"Incidents like these demonstrate the validity of the mounting evidence that none of Canada's firearms control efforts over the past 50 years have had any effect on preventing violence, or otherwise stopping bad people from carrying out their evil deeds," the statement said.
Based on posts on what appears to be his Facebook page, Bourque promoted the use of guns and often shared images with slogans including "Free Men Do Not Ask Permission to Bear Arms."
The NFA did not focus on Bourque or his background.
"It is clear that Canada's excessive firearms control system has failed again," the NFA statement said.
The gun group says money spent on gun control would be better used in the health-care system.
Moncton gun shop distances itself from suspect
Meanwhile, Worlds End Warehouse, a gun store in Moncton, put out a statement on Facebook, expressing its condolences and distancing itself from the alleged shooter.
"To prevent pointless media speculation we can confirm that the suspect in this case whilst known personally by employees of our store, was never a customer and never purchased firearms or ammunition from us," reads the statement.
"We wish the RCMP the best in apprehending the suspect as soon as possible."
The shop says it promotes the use of firearms for recreational hunting, target shooting and law enforcement.