In 1991, while Justin Bourque was taking his first steps as a toddler born to a religious family in New Brunswick, a French immigrant named Fabrice Gévaudan landed in Montreal.
The French newcomer became a constable with the RCMP. The home-schooled Acadian youth became a misfit who bounced between jobs.
Constable Gévaudan, 45, has now been identified as one of the three Mounties fatally shot on Wednesday in Moncton, while Mr. Bourque, 24, has been arrested and charged with killing them.
Until this week’s shooting rampage in Moncton, the two men had little in common but for one thing: They were both gun enthusiasts.
Constable Gévaudan was the gun owner who obeyed the law. Outside service hours, he owned private handguns, competed in shooting events and even briefly ran a business selling firearms online.
Mr. Bourque fits another familiar trope: the gun owner full of resentment and anger. His Facebook page was replete with anti-police slogans and he spoke ominously that he would one day “go out with a bang.”
Two friends of Constable Gévaudan spoke about his interest in firearms because they wanted to underline their belief that the debate should focus on what ailed Mr. Bourque rather than the access to guns.
The two gun models that Mr. Bourque carried – a pump-action shotgun and a Chinese version of the M-14 rifle – can be acquired by anyone who obtained a licence for non-restricted firearms, firearms instructor Mo Hepworth said.
He noted that the two models can be purchased at a number of stores around Moncton, including Canadian Tire.
A friend of Constable Gévaudan, Mr. Hepworth instructed the officer in a pistol shooting course two years ago. The two took part in shooting competitions.
“Fabrice was very pro-gun, pro-law-abiding gun. His belief was that you should be able to own a firearm if you are a good person and you pass all the tests, and we both agreed on that,” he said.
Constable Gévaudan was a co-owner of GNEXPORT, a now-defunct company incorporated in New Brunswick that imported firearms and ammunition.
Another friend, who was also familiar with Constable Gévaudan’s interest in guns, said he was a cautious, methodical man. He married a year ago and was now the stepfather of a young daughter. “He had his head on his shoulders,” the friend said.
The friend said gun ownership wasn’t an issue but the failure of Mr. Bourque’s acquaintances to flag his increasingly anti-social behaviour. “Why didn’t they call the police? This could have been avoided. You need to go to the root of the problem.”