Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Replica firearms concern top cop

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Winnipeg police Chief Devon Clunis is suggesting replica firearms not be sold in the city and liquor vendors refrain from selling alcohol to young adults in areas where intoxication and violence are historically a problem.

In his column, Taking a stand, the chief argues individuals must take responsibility to make decisions based on creating a culture of safety in the community.

"Without divulging specific names, I can walk into any number of retail establishments in Winnipeg and purchase a replica handgun," Clunis writes. "I'm not talking about the old-fashioned rifle-style BB gun. I'm talking about an airsoft pistol or revolver that looks virtually like a real gun. Many of our robberies take place using both real and replica firearms. Who is to know the difference?

"Furthermore, we've had instances where individuals have drawn replica firearms on our officers, forcing them to respond with lethal force. I cannot think of any reason whatsoever why these items need to be sold in our city -- or anywhere else for that matter."

Clunis adds: "Each of these businesses could make the decision to increase the real and perceived safety in our city simply by taking these items off their shelves. I am certain these businesses would continue to thrive and provide for the needs of their employees and families without the sale of replica handguns. They are simply not required and the conscious decision to sell them hampers the safety of our city."

Clunis also comments on the sale of alcohol to youth.

"Yes it's true, our Liquor Control Act permits the sale of alcohol to those 18 years of age and older," the chief writes. "But businesses have the right to adjust that age limit upwards to the benefit of the individual and the community.

"In areas where we know intoxicated young adults are the source of considerable problems, should businesses continue to cater to this age demographic? I'm not talking about mere nuisance issues such as partying all night and keeping the neighbours up with loud music. Rather, I'm talking about violent crimes -- stabbing, robbery, assault -- which create a sense of overwhelming fear in a community.

"In some cases, residents fear the crime in their neighbourhood so much, they choose to move to a safer place."

-- staff

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 5, 2013 A9

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