Mounties investigate 53 murders in 2008; firearms implicated in 15

Mounties investigated 53 deaths in rural Alberta in 2008, more than double the number in 2007.

EDMONTON — Mounties investigated 53 deaths in rural Alberta in 2008, more than double the number in 2007.

RCMP spokesman Cpl. Wayne Oakes said there don’t seem to be any explanations for the rise.

One disturbing trend Oakes acknowledged is a steady rise in the number of slayings involving weapons. In 2005, guns were used to kill 11 people, 22 per cent, and the same number were stabbed to death.

In 2008, 15 people were killed using firearms, 28 per cent of the total, while 12 were stabbed.

Those percentages didn’t dip in 2006 and 2007, when body tallies dropped dramatically.

He said he doubts those who pass off high crime rates as a consequence of a bustling economy.

At the same time, deaths by physical assault declined by half, suggesting more people are picking up weapons in their conflicts.

“It’s still very much a concern for our policing partners.”

Oakes defended the force’s current approach to gun violence.

“It doesn’t for one moment suggest our efforts have failed.

“What would those numbers be, would they be even higher if there was no social and police response?” he said.

Opponents of gun laws may want to rethink their stance, he added.

“We’ve always used the laws in place to combat firearms,” he said.

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