Smoke and Mirrors Obfuscates Incompetence

Aug 18, 2022

On 18-19 April 2020, a mentally unbalanced man blazed an escalating path of violence that didn't end until he was dead. And now, after precious few details have been released from the response agency, and where strong and sustained criticism has been voiced from the families of the victims (particularly regarding the lack of public alerts which would most definitely have kept some people out of harms way), the message is still being clogged with almost irrelevant bickering about whose political agendas are more important. The victims' families are losing ground to this politicization.

Here’s my question ...

HOW does releasing the weapon types hinder the investigation?

Granted, it's an open investigation, but was it actually "hindered" in any way by releasing that particular information? The authorities provided so-called information sessions for the media many times since the shooter was killed. They could have easily included that information early on, but for some reason it had to be pried out of them. The info wasn't released until seven months later.

I have yet to receive a satisfactory answer to my simple question, leading to the clear conclusion that this is a fabricated controversy intended to divert attention from the true issue of communications negligence.

The argument between the ill-informed but well-meaning gun control political advocates vs the political opposition in support of what is in this case a dubious concept of enforced secrecy, actually harms the sanctity of non-interference, and seems more like smoke and mirrors deflecting from the massive (I would argue criminal) communications failure that directly resulted in many deaths.

Interference is typically an extremely valid and indisputable concern and, to be clear, the Trudeau government has been caught many times interfering in official business that's supposed to be free of political hindrance. In this case, however, I believe the accusation is being "trumped up" and used disingenuously. In most cases it is self-evident, but not here. Therefore it is necessary to explain "how" the simple release of types of weapons used in this murder spree interfered with the investigation. I've heard a litany of responses to my question, and not one of them holds any water. Spin doctors will have to put their heads together to try to come up with (after the fact) a plausible reason if they want to continue to beat that drum.

By 19 April 2020, the culprit was quite dead, so no additional info would be coming from him. He was gunned down – by a brave cop doing what he is trained to do. This man had been on a mad rampage of shooting and burning that killed 21 civilians and a police officer. Luckily for everyone not already shot, he needed to gas up and that's when an alert officer neutralized the threat, ending the trail of terror.

(Full disclosure: the take-down was a mere 5 minutes from where my then 1-year old grandson lay in his crib). 

Weapon-type is OFTEN released very early after a publicized event, so why the hullabaloo this time? We all know why the feds put pressure on the RCMP to divulge the information.  – whose officers in Nova Scotia actually answer to the NS& Solicitor General, not to the federal Public Safety Minister. Why was the information withheld from the public? Was someone in NS tryimg to teach the feds a lesson about staying in your own lane? It's a complicated system but those officers are contracted to the Provincial government – in juvenile terms, the province is "the boss of them." I'd be willing to bet that Trudeau was under the mistaken assumption that the RCMP Commissioner had jurisdiction.

Getting back to the question at hand, I cannot stress enough that there was no precious secret being divulged, no investigative hindrance. The answer wasn't going to take up a lot of time, and there was no reason to keep such information from the public. The whole “let’s not talk about assault weapons while death is fresh in people’s minds", simply reinforces the “let’s not blame the weapon” mentality.

Unless there is a compelling argument for keeping this information “secret” from the public – adding this “event" to the argument for more intelligent gun regulation is an ethical and justified choice to protect the public.

Mass shootings are precisely the type of “incident” that scares the heck out of law-abiding people, and rightly so. We don't like knowing that such weapons can be purchased by people with hatred in their hearts and minds. This guy may have succeeded in fooling a background check, but when combined with owning police-type cars and uniform, someone may have been able to put a roadblock on his plans and maybe get him the mental help he obviously needed. 

Keeping such information secret could only have been motivated by something other than our collective safety. Everyone in law enforcement should be standing up for the right of people to feel safe in their homes, on the highways, and in their neighbourhoods. Gun proliferation by members of the public is a threat to that collective safety.

The RCMP, the Canadian Armed Forces, and all police forces should be solidly behind the concept of not allowing the general public to have portable access to assault-style weapons and ammunition. That said, politicians should not be the ones making decisions as to which weapons are banned from public use, as few of them understand what they are talking about (hence the "ill-informed" descriptor used above).

All politicians and all members of the Senate should be more concerned with the public's right to safety than with anyone's right to have assault weapons in their home or car or back shed. But they should be taking advice from police organizations on what should be banned and what regulations should govern their use and transport.

On that note, it’s probably just as important (if not more so considering the potential for 3-D printed guns) to also ban the possession of ammunition for those types of guns – for anyone other than on-duty authorities who are trained to stop the threat, such as cops or the military.

The general public deserves to feel 100% safe from weapons. Guns should never be "on the streets" of our communities except when held by an on-duty police officer. In fact, it should be a right that is upheld by every law in the land.

But that is secondary to the disservice being perpetrated now on the families of the victims in particular – and the public as a whole – when the focus of a legitimate quest for answers is being shifted to partisan bickering. All parties should be working on changing "the system" to ensure people can depend on the public alert system when their lives are in potential immediate jeopardy.

Living on the outskirts of Enfield, the only information my son and daughter-in-law had about an active shooter on the loose only miles from their home, were facebook rumours from friends – but these weren't being backed up by any official notifications.

Contrary to the beliefs of some communications graduates, the RCMP "Twitter" feed is not followed by a majority of the public and should not be considered the medium of choice for important life-or-death notifications.

Isn't that what we have the Emergency Alert system for?