The news of guns showing up in popular places is concerning to many Maritimers.

“That scary,” says one woman. “That’s the sort of stuff you expect to be hearing happening in the USA, not in Canada, especially not in Atlantic Canada.”

“It raises a great deal of concern,” says one man. “I work in the bar industry myself, so coming out in public places like that is just, makes my life a little more dangerous and my customers and my coworkers.”

“I think part of its fear,” says another. “That you never know if the person next to you has a gun and I think part of it that’s some people trying to be safer.”

Whatever the reason, it has people talking.

Last week a 16-year-old boy was arrested outside a mall in Dartmouth hiding a loaded gun.

Three others between the ages of 16 and 22 were also picked up in the parking lot with drugs and cash.

Then early New Year’s Day police say a man pulled out a gun while on a Metro Transit bus. They’re still looking for him, and the woman who was with him.

“One of the things that we’re seeing is some people that are coming on radar that have never had interaction with police before that are carrying guns,” says Deputy Chief Bill Moore of the Halifax Regional Police. “That’s really concerning to me.”

Moore says about 700 crime guns were seized last year, about 650 the year before.

An expert in public safety says one thing police can be doing in light of these incidents is specifically targeting where they happened. Paul McKenna says research proves hot spot policing does work. He says it not only heightens patrols, it also creates reassurance within the community.

Moore says hot spot policing can also be predictive, meaning officers use as much information as they can to look at where they may find trouble.

“So I would much rather target the individual, target the guns, and then wherever we go to get them,” says Moore. “As opposed to people looking over their shoulders at popular public places.”  

The city’s mayor agrees, and says gun violence is a concern no matter where it happens in our community.

“I certainly have said and continue to believe that we need a refresh on the mayor’s task force on violence,” explains Mike Savage, mayor of Halifax. “Have a look at where we are, what things have worked, and what else can we do.”

While police believe they’re making headway, Moore stresses they can’t do it alone. They need help from the public to crack down on gun violence.   

With files from CTV Atlantic's Jacqueline Foster