Gun crimes are on the rise in the Gateway to the North, according to police statistics.
Year-to-date statistics shared by Prince Albert police Chief Jon Bergen Thursday said there have been 56 investigations of offences where a firearm was used so far in 2020.
In 32 of those cases, a firearm was discharged. Half of the cases have resulted in charges.
He said last year, over the same time period, data showed there were 32 files or investigations where a firearm was used during an offence in the northern Saskatchewan city. In 2018, there were 29 cases where a firearm was used in a crime, Bergen said.
"Our police service has responded to shootings and other serious calls this year with ongoing investigations, that include suspicious circumstances related to a missing person," Bergen said.
"One person also remains in hospital with serious and life-threatening injuries."
So far this year, officers in Prince Albert have seized 107 firearms, Bergen said. Over the same period last year, officers had seized 89; in 2018, the number was 74 firearms, and in 2017, it was 100.
A majority of the firearms that are seized are lawful firearms but modified, often by being cut down, for concealment purposes.
He noted arrests have been made in all but two of the city's six homicides this year. The latest is a shooting on Tuesday night that Bergen said resulted in the death of a 28-year-old man, which is being investigated as a homicide.
Many of the gun-related incidents in Prince Albert are not random, and in many cases the victims and perpetrators are known to each other, Bergen said.
He attributed the increase in violent crimes in Prince Albert to a number of "root-cause issues," including drug and gang activity, along with addictions and mental health issues.
"Why are firearms more of a problem than they were seven or eight years ago?… It's hard to say for sure," he said.
"We see more often that somebody is carrying a firearm for some sort of self-defence reason or other reason that they think is necessary."