A Manitoba judge recommended Manitoba consider enacting legislation regulating the acquisition and possession of imitation firearms. (File photo by BLACK PRESS)

Judge says limiting imitation firearms could prevent so-called suicides-by-cop

WINNIPEG — A Manitoba judge is calling for new rules governing imitation firearms to reduce the risk of fatal shootings involving police and so-called suicides-by-cop.

Provincial court Judge Lindy Choy says the availability of toy guns that look like the real thing increases the risk of deadly confrontations.

Choy says police may not know whether a weapon being pointed at them is real or fake, and often have no choice but to react on the assumption the weapon is real.

Choy oversaw an inquest into the deaths of two men who were shot by Winnipeg police in separate incidents in 2015.

One man had pointed a real firearm at police and the other had pointed a gun that turned out to be a replica.

Choy’s inquest report says officers responded appropriately given the threats they faced, and calls on the Manitoba government to consider tightening the availability of imitation firearms.

“The availability of imitation firearms in society makes it more likely that police will be provoked to use lethal force,” Choy wrote.

“I recommend the Province of Manitoba consider enacting legislation regulating the acquisition and possession of imitation firearms to reduce the risk of harm to the person possessing the imitation firearm, members of the public and law enforcement officials.”

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