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Maple Batalia murder jolts Mainland, questions around gun control raised

The murder of 19-year-old SFU nursing student Maple Batalia has rattled people throughout Surrey and beyond. While there is no evidence about who her killer is, her father said that a young man has been harassing his daughter and following her around, according to Global TV. He said a few days prior, a man had assaulted her at a Tim Hortons location and that police was notified.

The fact that she was gunned down in front of her school is unnerving enough. The fact that she was gunned down at school, despite calling for a restraining order against her suspected killer, has raised many questions. How did the killer -- suspected to be Batalia's schoolmate -- even get his gun? Does this mean that any random Joe in town can obtain a gun and get away with murder?

Gun purchase "not easy" in Metro Vancouver, but what about across the border?

According to one B.C.-based gun store owner who asked to remain anonymous, it is "not easy" to get obtain firearms in the province. 

In B.C., the whole process takes about three months (from course to return of your licence) on average and costs about $310 in total. You would the following:

  • a $190 safety course for a firearm permit 
  • a score of over 86 per cent in order to pass
  • an $80 government fee
  • two references from people who know you for more than five years to confirm that you don't have anger or depression issues. 
  • A criminal record check 

All of the above, however, only applies to people obtaining their firearms the legal way. That may not have been the case for Batalia's killer. According to the RCMP, most illegal firearms come from the U.S., where gun regulations tend to be far looser than in Canada.

While you can get a gun from a Walmart store in U.S., it isn't as easy as walk in and buy. Applications need to be filled, and photo ID is required. According to the store owner, it's even harder to import guns from U.S. than it is to obtain them from Europe.

Guns, rifles and ammunition from

And even if you do manage to obtain arms in the U.S., it's hard to get it across the border. The gun purchase needs to be a business-to-business transaction becasue you can't ship it to yourself. According to the source, the gun would be detected by metal detectors when a vehicle is crossing the border to Canada.   But this is unconfirmed and no one VO talked with could explain how this was being enforced, or if it's even true.  One thing is certain, purchasing a gun in the U.S. is easy.  Getting it into Canada may be less so.  But not impossible.

RIP Batalia

But claims that it's difficult to get a gun around town come as cold comfort to friends of Batalia. There were nearly 850,000 legal, registered firearms in the province as of 2007, enough to equip about one in five residents. And this number doesn't even count the number of illegal firearms in possession of gangs. 

"I hope justice is served but it still won't compensate the loss of such an ambitious, beautiful and talented human being. I can't even comprehend on what the fool behind the trigger was thinking before taking away the life of someone's daughter," Amrita Sandhu wrote on a Facebook page set up in memory of the young victim. 

"My condolences to Maple's family and friends, I hope they find the monster who did this," Jojo Jalal said.

Photos taken from RIP Maple Batalia Facebook page

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