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'Ghost gun' operation found in Langford after tips stemming from February shooting

A 3-D printer being used to make unregistered firearms was discovered by police investigating an incident where a firearm was discharged near Jordie Lunn Bike Park

Three loaded homemade guns and evidence that a 3-D printer was being used to make unregistered firearms were found during a search of a Langford property last week, say West Shore RCMP.

More than 100 items were seized after the Nov. 7 search, which also found dozens of components that could be used for more so-called “ghost guns,” other restricted and prohibited firearms, body armour and ammunition, police said.

A suspect was arrested by the detachment’s Serious Crime Unit the same day as the search, police said.

The case dates back to a Feb. 20 incident in which a firearm was pointed at someone and discharged near Jordie Lunn Bike Park on Irwin Road in Langford.

Police issued a news release along with surveillance video and photos from the scene, asking for the public’s assistance in identifying the shooter. “With help from the community we were able to identify this person,” said Const. Andrew Matheson.

A 41-year-old Langford man has been charged with reckless discharge of a firearm, pointing a firearm, possession of a prohibited weapon, contravention of storage regulations and weapons manufacturing.

Matheson said more charges will likely be laid once all of the items found are analyzed.

He said police are “very happy” to get the ghost guns off the streets.

The suspect has no criminal record and has been released with a court date of Feb. 8. He has a firearms licence but could face a firearms prohibition, Matheson said.

Matheson said ghost guns are frequently made with 3-D printers, although other methods can also be used.

The name ghost gun refers to guns that aren’t built by a reputable manufacturer and don’t have serial numbers and are thus difficult to trace. Such guns are frequently used to commit crimes, he said.

He said that in some instances, they are made to look like toy guns so raise fewer suspicions.

While people have been home-building guns “for as long as guns have existed,” the barrier to entry is a lot lower with the advent of 3-D printers — which form objects with layers of plastic — and the Internet, Matheson said

“It’s kind of new territory,” he said. “We’re starting to see more and more of it all across Canada.”

Matheson couldn’t confirm if West Shore RCMP had come across 3-D-printer-made firearms before.

Saanich police Sgt. Damian Kowalewich said the detachment’s officers are aware of ghost guns and the West Shore case.

“It’s an additional weapon that we have to deal with.”

jbell@timescolonist.com