March 21, 2022
To address gun-toting smugglers and gangland criminals at airports, the Department of Transport is proposing customs officers at major airports be routinely armed.
“Risk analyses conducted by the Government of Canada have highlighted the presence of organized crime at airports and potential for insider threats,” staff wrote in a Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement. “They have revealed weapons, including firearms, have also been found in the possession of airport workers.”
Currently, Canada Border Services Agency officers may only carry a firearm through an airport with a temporary permit. The department proposed amendments under the Aeronautics Act to allow uniformed agents on duty to carry guns without first submitting paperwork, according to Blacklocks Reporter.
“Canada has one of the safest and most secure aviation systems in the world and Canadian airports remain a low risk environment,” wrote staff. “However it is recognized that border services officers face inherent risks at airports due to the nature of their job.”
The proposed regulations would also apply to U.S. Customs officers at pre-clearance desks at airports, Parks Canada wardens, and fisheries officers.
“The officers of these departments often need to hit the ground running either for wildlife control or, in the case of law enforcement, such as apprehending poachers,” said the legal notice.
“Research and reports show there are incidents of organized crime involvement and large drug seizures at major Canadian international airports which have gathered public attention and highlighted the reality of criminal activity within the airport environment.”
The Border Services Agency first armed employees in 2006, and a subsequent 2017 audit found a total 6,492 agents had completed firearms training.
“The arming initiative was perceived by the officers, regional management and management at national headquarters to have increased officers’ awareness of risks and to have elevated officers’ abilities and confidence in threat assessment in certain high-risk situations,” said the Evaluation Of The CBSA Arming Initiative.
But Guns were rarely used, and auditors counted 146 incidents from 2012 to 2018 in which border guards pulled their weapons at land crossings.