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4,770 Guns Seized at Canadian Border Since 2017: Report

Fewer than 5,000 guns have been seized at the Canadian border since January 2017, according to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), despite increased federal promises to reduce cross-border firearms trafficking.

The Liberal cabinet told the House of Commons in a recently-tabled “Inquiry Of Ministry” that 4,770 guns have been seized by border officers since January 1, 2017, after the numbers were requested by Conservative MP Shannon Stubbs, according to Blacklock’s Reporter.

The fewest number of recorded gun seizures at the border over the past five years occurred in 2020, with just 495. The following year set an all-time high in Canadian history for seizures, according to Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino.

“2021 was a record year for illegal firearms seizures but there is still a lot more work to do,” Mendicino told reporters in Niagara Falls on Aug. 17.

“That’s why we’re going to continue to invest in CBSA, we’re going to continue to find ways to support the front-line officers who work at our ports of entry.”

CBSA has seized 1,003 firearms to date this year and just over 1,100 in 2021, according to the Inquiry of Ministry. The agency wrote in its “Year in Review” report last year that 908 firearms had been seized at the border as of Dec. 10.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in late October that the federal government will be increasing investments in the CBSA to increase the agency’s capability of detecting gun smuggling.

“The work we’ve been doing over the past years is working,” Trudeau told reporters in Surrey, B.C., on Oct. 21. “Our Liberal government is reinforcing our borders and giving law enforcement the tools and resources they need to stop illegal gun smuggling.”

Gun Smuggling

Trudeau’s announcement came the same day the federal government made permanent its national handgun freeze, which started as a temporary measure in August.

“We have frozen the market for handguns in this country,” Trudeau said.

CBSA said in its annual report last year that the most common type of gun intercepted at the border in 2021 was handguns, with a total of 316 being seized.

Yet, the national president of the customs and immigration union told a parliamentary committee in February that border screening measures for rail cargo are so ill-equipped that only a small portion of smuggled guns get intercepted.

“As of 2019, only one one-millionth of all rail cargo was effectively being examined,” Mark Weber told the House of Commons public safety committee on Feb. 1.

“Canada has almost zero examination capabilities directly at the border, due in part to geographical issues, inadequate tools and political decisions not to force rail carriers to supply the necessary facilities. In other words, there’s almost a zero per cent chance that any illegal weapons entering the country via rail will ever be found,” he said.

Trudeau said in October that the federal government’s new funding for the CBSA will allow the agency to deploy x-ray truck scanners. He did not mention any new railway screening measures.

Meanwhile, criminals caught smuggling guns are no longer subject to mandatory minimum jail sentences after Bill C-5 received royal assent last week.

The bill removes mandatory minimum sentences for 20 offenses, including “weapons trafficking,” “possession for purpose of weapons trafficking,” and “importing or exporting knowing it is unauthorized.”

Peter Wilson


Peter Wilson is a reporter based in Ontario, Canada.

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