Canada and the United States have agreed to trace firearms that are intercepted at the border, a measure aimed at bolstering efforts to stop the smuggling of handguns north from the largest private arms market fire to the world, officials from both countries said on Friday.
Canadian Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino and US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said they signed four agreements in Ottawa aimed at tackling cross-border crime, including one providing for increased gun tracing.
“Canada and the United States have agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation to reduce gun violence,” Mendicino said. “It means making even more progress in tracing illegal weapons so that we can hold these criminals and organized criminal networks accountable.”
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will cooperate with the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to trace weapons seized at the border to see who purchased them and whether they have ever been used in crimes.
Last year, some 1,101 firearms were seized at the border, said a government source not authorized to speak publicly. That’s broadly in line with 2021, when 1,110 were confiscated, according to CBSA figures.
The United States tracks guns by requiring gun dealers to record the serial numbers of the guns they sell and who bought them. Tracing provides key intelligence to the ATF, which can then investigate and prosecute buyers of firearms that are then sold illegally or smuggled.
“Data and information sharing is a powerful tool in the fight against gun violence,” said US Attorney General Merrick Garland, also present.
Previously, firearms tracing in Canada was inconsistent. Canada has only traced 6-10% of firearms implicated in crimes, according to 2019 data from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), a federal agency.
Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, traces nearly all handguns implicated in crime, and in 2021, more than 80% of those that could be found came from the United States.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government last year introduced new legislation to tackle gun violence, including a freeze on handgun sales and a ban on sales of high-capacity magazines.
Mendicino, Mayorkas, Garland and Canada’s Justice Minister David Lametti met on Friday as part of the so-called Cross-Border Crime Forum.
They also agreed to coordinate further on issues such as human trafficking, money laundering, the use of cryptocurrency to fund illegal activities, and so-called ghost guns often made with 3D printers.
Garland also said they also discussed how to resolve the crisis in Haiti, and Mayorkas said he was working with Canada to find legal avenues for people fleeing violence in Haiti.
“It is vital that individuals seek legal avenues and do not go to sea,” Mayorkas said, where “we are seeing too much loss of life.”
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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)