Here’s the deal with those big guns the cops were carrying on Italian Day

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Vancouver PD ERT members carrying Colt C8 carbine rifles at Italian Day on the Drive. Courtesy of Twitter @VanAlias / Adrienne Smith

V.I.A. sister publication the Vancouver Courier published a story today about the police presence at this year’s Italian Day on Commercial Drive.

A couple attendees shot photographs of officers holding carbine rifles and shared them on social media, and a minor uproar ensued.

As a PAL holder (the license the RCMP issues to people so they can own guns), I have a different take than you might hear from others in the media.

One thing that I noticed in the photos – which I did not notice when I saw officers with the same guns months ago outside a Canucks game – is that the Colt C8 carbine rifles they’re carrying have a different magazine (the big clip thing that holds the bullets) than I understood to be standard issue.

The three magazines that the officers are carrying – 1 inserted into the gun and 2 in the pockets of their vest – are see-through. People encountering these cops can get a look at the large bullets as opposed to the standard black magazines where the rounds are hidden, making the VPD’s guns perhaps more menacing looking to someone not used to seeing firearms. I thought that might be an intentional decision, as a “don’t f**k around” message. I was half wrong.

Speaking to Jason Robillard of the VPD, he tells me that the reason they’re see through is so that the officer can see how many rounds they have left in the chamber. A quick glance at these let the officer know if they should be reloading.

A scenario in which a VPD officer would need to reload a 24-round magazine into a carbine rifle at a friendly day on the Drive is truly frightening. And these guns do look big and scary. However following on the heels of the Toronto van attack and other world events would we rather not be more safe than sorry? This is the new normal and the VPD should continue to attend events the way they do; the odd share on social media of someone being “triggered” by a strong police presence isn’t worth sacrificing public safety over.