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Sen. Payette Mentally Disturbed (by guns)

Sen. Payette Mentally Disturbed (by guns)

“I’m afraid. I feel uncomfortable,” said Senate Liberal Céline Hervieux-Payette, who has complained to the House of Commons and Senate Speakers’ offices. “I hate to see someone with a machinegun.”

The RCMP has had MP-5 submachine guns available for security outside the Parliament buildings for years. But the police force would not say when or why officers began carrying the weapons in public while standing guard near the Peace Tower. It also wouldn’t say who made the decision.

Green party leader Elizabeth May said she had also complained to Scheer that she found the gun “offensive.”

“I believe the security measures need to be tightened up,” she said. “I just think the message it sends to tourists, to schoolchildren, to citizens, to foreigners, is one of an armed encampment as opposed to a house of democracy.”

Some RCMP officers guarding Parliament Hill against potential terrorist attacks should be armed with rifles similar to those carried by Canadian troops in Afghanistan, says Conservative senator Vern White, a former Mountie and ex-Ottawa police chief.

White said the Heckler & Koch MP5 9mm submachine-guns that reappeared recently in the hands of RCMP guards patrolling near Centre Block are useful in certain situations but don’t have the range to hit attackers farther out on the grounds of Parliament Hill near Wellington Street.

Police should instead be primarily equipped with the more powerful Colt C8 that chambers larger 5.56mm cartridges. The gun is popular with police tactical teams and Canadian and other NATO alliance troops. The MP5, too, is used by police and counter-terrorism units in more than 40 countries.

RCMP officers were originally issued the MP5 in 1986 for duty on Parliament Hill and for guarding embassies in Ottawa. But they were later removed after a series of embarrassing misfires, in which officers were wounded. The RCMP noted at the time that 9mm handguns being issued to officers would be as effective as the MP5s.

Both guns “have utilization up here (on the Hill) but of the two, the MP5 is useless on the grounds,” said White, who trained on both weapons during his police career. The MP5 has an effective range of about 50 metres, he said.

“We’re looking at about 175 metres from the top of the stairs (in front of Centre Block) to Wellington Street. You’re not hitting anybody with an MP-5,” if they’re entering the grounds at Wellington, as shooter Michael Zehaf-Bibeau did on Oct. 22, 2014.

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