More homicides than ever before — 297 — were committed with firearms in Canada in 2021.
One of those deadly shootings happened in Red Deer’s Eastview neighbourhood where a man was found lying on the road near 38th Avenue and 45th Street after a 4:40 a.m. shooting on March 16, 2021. Police at the time believed it was a targeted shooting. No other information about the crime has been released.
Out of the four homicides in Red Deer that year, the death in Eastview was the only one involving a firearm.
According to the Firearms and Violent Crime report released earlier this week by Statistics Canada, shooting deaths in the country climbed six per cent from the previous year, and 2021 had the highest rate recorded since 1992.
Police say 46 per cent of all the shootings were confirmed or suspected to be related to gang activity.
In September, the federal government announced that the City of Red Deer would receive $2.1 million over the next four years through the Building Safer Communities Fund to support prevention and intervention efforts for youth when it comes to gun and/or gang violence.
A city plan will be developed in 2022-23 to be implemented starting April 1, 2023.
A total of 120 communities across Canada received the funding from Public Safety Canada based on firearms and gang-related crime statistics.
The Stats Canada report says shooting homicides accounted for 40 per cent of all homicides in Canada in 2021 and was the most common cause of death for homicide victims for the sixth consecutive year. Thirty-two per cent of the homicides were stabbings, 17 per cent were beatings, and 10 per cent by other methods.
The rise in shooting deaths was driven by increases in Ontario (+20), British Columbia (+14) and Quebec (+6), which were partially offset by declines in Alberta (-15) and Nova Scotia (-12).
Handguns were used 57 per cent of the time, followed by rifles or shotguns at 26 per cent.
Nearly all victims of handgun homicides (95 per cent) were in urban areas. Homicides committed with a rifle or shotgun were dispersed throughout the country with 56 per cent in urban areas, 28 per cent in the rural south and 15 per cent in the rural north.
The rate of firearm-related violent crime decreased five per cent in 2021 in Canada, but the rate was still 25 per cent higher than it was a decade earlier.
Stats Canada says violent crime involving firearms consistently accounts for a small proportion of all crime brought to the attention of police. The 8,047 victims of firearm-related violent crime represented 2.6 per cent of all violent crime victims in 2021.
Physical assault, robbery, and the firearm-specific Criminal Code violations of discharging a firearm with intent, pointing a firearm, or using a firearm in the commission of an offence accounted for 80 per cent of all firearm-related violent crime.
Ontario saw the biggest decrease in these crimes with a 15 per cent rate drop (-522 victims). Alberta saw a three per cent decrease (-47 victims) due to a 36 per cent decline in the rural southern region.