Time to examine access to crossbows

TORONTO - There is no licence needed to own one.


No training required to shoot one. There’s no registry. No need to show identification or even write down your name.

Just put down your cash (between $300 and $1,300) and legally walk out of a sporting goods store in the GTA with a lethal killing machine called a crossbow.

Of course, they are designed to kill legally regulated wild game in appropriate hunting seasons. But like all weapons designed for something else, they can be commandeered for murderous purposes on humans, as Toronto experienced Thursday.

It’s not Toronto’s first crossbow-related slaying scene and one wonders how many more will be tolerated by the public, and those who govern, before there is a move to make them more difficult to buy and kept better track of.

Right now, cigarettes are a more onerous task to purchase. A trip on Hwy. 407 asks for more personal information.

Toronto Police were not confirming very much of what happened in this blood-curdling triple homicide in Scarborough where a crossbow was found and that later had them dealing with a suspicious package at a downtown condo building.

The whole thing is bizarre. Scary.

But this business of a crossbow being used went viral around the world because it sounded different. Still, it was not clear to me at deadline if a crossbow was fired in one or more of the three slayings, or if a bolt (arrow) with a sharp star head was plunged into people.

Forensics was trying to put all that together at the scene near Kingston and Markham Rds. Either way, there are three dead.

Talking to crossbow enthusiasts in the hours after this frightening incident, a few things became clearer. The weapon is not designed for quantity hunting but more quality.

“It’s all about the one shot,” a crossbow owner told me and Sun photographer Dave Thomas at the incredible Bass Pro Shops store in Vaughan. “You can reload if you are strong and fast, but the emphasis on this kind of hunting is the accuracy of your main shot.”

So for someone to have the opportunity to get off potentially three shots that all proved fatal is no easy task.

“They are very quiet,” adds Dave, who has used them for target shooting in the past. “There is no pop like with a gun, so it is conceivable a person could reload without detection.”

In time we will get a clearer picture of what happened. Police sources tell both myself and colleagues Chris Doucette and Terry Davidson that the investigative theory is the players in this disturbing scene are part of a family unit. But that has not been confirmed, and I have an open mind on where this ultimately goes. It all seems pretty strange.

No matter how it’s sorted, there are three dead and one in custody.

If homicide charges are laid, it will have been Toronto’s second triple homicide in 2016 — the first was by gunfire in Chinatown in the spring. It will also push Toronto’s 2016 homicide number to 47 — a shocking 12 more than the 35 at this time last year.

But none of that seems to be the focus. People want to know about the crossbow and bolts.

From all the people I talked with at Bass Pro Shops, crossbows are not a menace to society or a concern in the proper hands.

But in the wrong hands, there can be a whole lot of a carnage. Perhaps that is what happened in Scarborough.

Either way, authorities need to ask the question about how these weapons should be accessed before we see many more examples of how deadly they can be.

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