Danforth Reaction: Toronto wants Ottawa to ban sale hand guns

The recent spike in gun violence in the city of Toronto has got lawmakers and residents worried that things may soon spiral out of control. As Toronto’s council woman, Mary Fragedakis cried out after the recent shootings, “We do have a gun problem. Why do people have guns, why do they need them? This is the city and in Canadian cities, you don’t need guns.” Mayor John Tory, in a speech to council after the shooting, similarly admitted that the rate of gun related deaths have doubled over the past year.

The most recent shooting took place on Monday night, where a man took a gun to the residents to the bewildered residents of Danforth Ave., aimlessly shooting at innocent passers-by. Killing a 10-year-old girl and an 18-year-old woman and injuring 13 more people.

The handgun problem in Canada has been said to come from the influx of illegal handguns from the US. Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders further informed the council that about half of the illegal guns police are now sourced right in the city, where people would buy them legally then resell them.

In the wake of these events, the city council on Tuesday July the 24th, took a vote of 41-4 in favor of the motion to forbid the sale of handgun ammunition within the city and to ask the federal government to ban the sale of handguns in Toronto.

In addition to these, the council has decided to adopt other strategies that would further rid the city of gun violence; some part of the new strategy would include investing in ShotSpotter, a technology that uses microphones to detect gunfire and automatically informs police and recruiting 100 new police officers to protect the city. Council also decided to implement stricter procedures as it involves previously mentally ill individuals acquiring a gun.

In response to Toronto’s request, Federal Safety Minister, Ralph Goodale says the government would consider the increasing calls for handgun ban, recalling that the issue was also recently brought up by those affected by the January Quebec mosque shooting. In his words, “A number of groups and organizations made representations to that effect earlier this year. I said that we would be prepared to consider their arguments and we will do that.” He however admitted that such change would involve extensive remodeling of the country’s criminal code.

As seen in the four dissenting Toronto council votes, not everyone is in total support of the council’s recent moves to ban gun violence. Gun rights advocates have of course began to speak up on the issue, arguing that a ban of handguns would not do much to prevent similar cases of gun violence in the city. Furthermore, some councilors have raised concerns on issues on privacy and constitutional concerns that might come up while using Shotspotter.

It can be recalled that Canada initially revamped its gun laws after the country's worst mass shooting in 1989, when 14 women were killed by man, Marc Lepine who also killed himself. Since then it was made illegal to possess an unregistered firearm.


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