The way to stop Gabriel Wortman would have been for the RCMP to act on reports he had illegal firearms before he committed his heinous acts
The biggest takeaway from the Mass Casualty Commission Report in Nova Scotia is that this was an entirely preventable incident.
The simple fact is that the people who needed to do their jobs didn’t when it mattered and a massacre occurred.
The report goes into much more detail and there are plenty of recommendations — some of them politically motivated — but near the start of the report’s Executive Summary, the point is made, this didn’t have to happen.
“There were many warning signs of the perpetrator’s violence and missed opportunities to intervene in the years before the mass casualty,” the report states.
To put it more bluntly, the perpetrator, Gabriel Wortman, was someone known to police for violent attacks. Nearly three dozen people knew he had illegal guns, he was reported to police three times and he wasn’t properly investigated.
“At least 35 people knew that the perpetrator had acquired firearms, and quite a few had seen them and were aware they were semi-automatic firearms rather than ordinary hunting rifles or shotguns. The perpetrator was not particularly secretive about them and, as we have described, he was known to show them off,” the report explains.
LILLEY: Mounties counter Trudeau Liberals’ claim of no political interference in mass shooting probe
LILLEY: Memo shows Trudeau knew Nova Scotia gunman used smuggled guns
LILLEY: PM using Nova Scotia massacre to push misguided rifle ban agenda
Wortman had no gun licence, and explained to his common-law partner that he didn’t want a gun licence because it would slow him down at the border. Speaking of the border, due to a lack of coordination between the RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency, Wortman was able to obtain a Nexus card despite his criminal record allowing him easy passage at the Canada-U.S. border.
Three of the four guns Wortman used in his massacre were smuggled in, by him, from the United States. The other was obtained illegally in Canada.
People not only knew he had guns, they knew they were illegal and reported him to police.
“There were only three reports to police about the perpetrator’s firearms, and they were not adequately investigated,” the report states.
The authors of the report use the phrase “only three reports” because they believe more people didn’t come forward out of fear of Wortman due to his history of violence. Three reports, including one from his father in 2010 describing illegal guns, should have been enough for police to investigate — but it didn’t happen.
If police had investigated Wortman properly, if CBSA had vetted him properly before giving him a Nexus card, the events of April 2020 would not have happened.
Rather than dwell on those indisputable facts, much of the report looks for societal reasons for the massacre, including the fact that Wortman, like about 90% of Nova Scotia’s population, was white.
“The perpetrator’s privilege as a wealthy white man contributed to his impunity from adverse official or social consequences for his violence,” the report said.
The report calls for a slew of new gun-control measures, many of which sound incredibly similar to the Trudeau’s government’s controversial measures from earlier this year, the ones they withdrew in the face of opposition from Indigenous groups, hunters, farmers and every opposition party.
How does it make sense, how will it improve public safety to bring in more gun-control measures in response to this massacre?
The existing laws were not followed — all of the guns were illegal and most of them smuggled into the country. In addition, law enforcement didn’t enforce the existing laws even when tipped off that the law was being broken.
Action does not equal results but governments, and the commissions, agencies and boards they create, must be seen as doing something.
The way to stop Gabriel Wortman would have been to act before he committed his heinous acts. The laws on the books at the time were sufficient, they weren’t applied.
If we add new laws, new regulations, new gun-control measures and act in the same manner, it won’t stop future incidents from happening.
Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.
Join the Conversation