Pangnirtung RCMP go door-to-door to reduce gun violence
Campaign aims to reduce firearm-related incidents in Nunavut
Members of the RCMP in Pangnirtung started a door-to-door firearms safety campaign July 26, offering trigger locks and safety pamphlets to residents in Inuktitut, English and French.
The campaign is part the RCMP’s territory-wide effort to reduce gun violence, said Sgt. Yvonne Niego of “V” division, which oversees Nunavut.
Police in Pangnirtung are visiting residents through the week of July 28 to provide trigger locks and pamphlets on gun safety “to encourage residents to secure and store their firearms and ammunition,” Niego said.
Officers have carried out similar campaigns in Cape Dorset, Clyde River, Igloolik, Hall Beach and Kimmirut, and will do the same in Arviat, Baker Lake and Gjoa Haven this year, she said.
Campaigns in other communities have included partnerships with municipal authorities, and visits to schools and businesses.
“It’s been on the RCMP’s agenda for a while now,” she told Nunatsiaq News July 28.
Niego pointed to the territory’s high suicide rate and ever-increasing murder charges that are firearms-related as two key reasons for the campaign.
Other factors include the importance of hunting for subsistence, and crowded living conditions in Nunavut communities.
“We know that there’s a lot of multiple families living in single residence units, and a lot of firearms in our homes,” Niego said.
“We know it’s difficult in the North, to obtain proper, secure gun cabinets” or other safety equipment, she added.
Nunavut’s department of Health and Social Services provided most of the funding to buy the trigger locks.
The RCMPs awareness program is also part of a larger effort to help communities manage firearms safety and licensing, which is fraught by complications due to lack of permitting authorities in communities, and lack of official federal documentation in Inuktitut, Niego said.
Firearms are regulated by the RCMP’s Canadian Firearms Program, established in 2006. All records are handled at a central office in Miramichi, New Brunswick.
“In many communities, a lot of licences have expired, and it takes a long time [to renew them] through the mail system,” Niego said.
Crowded living conditions can further add to delays in receiving mail.
“With so many people assigned to one post box — for example, multiple families in one home — the mail gets lost,” Niego said.
“It just makes it a little more difficult for people in a small community to access those services in the south.”
One solution, proposed by Nunavut RCMP, is to call on business organizations in Nunavut’s communities to help bring residents together for an annual firearms licensing event, where all residents can renew their documents and get new ones.
“Part of this initiative helps bring back some of the capacity to the community,” she said.
As part of the effort, the RCMP also provides information on where to find firearms licensing forms online, and special procedures on how Nunavummiut can complete alternate certifications for firearms used in subsistence hunting.