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Canada should have stricter gun laws


February 12, 2016
By Chris D. Lewis

812 words – MR

Canada should have stricter gun laws

by Chris Lewis

Canada’s legislation around the acquisition, carriage and storage of firearms is one of the huge public safety advantages we have over our American friends. Although even one shooting or homicide is unacceptable, our gun-related crime rates are a mere pittance compared to the United States per capita. We must be doing something right on our side of the 49th parallel – but can we do more?

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The number of shootings in the Toronto area, most or all involving handguns, have spiked recently. Some other major Canadian cities are seeing similar increases, albeit not as significant.

There may be a hundred societal reasons for this increase in violence. Often, but not always, the victims are somehow associated to a criminal lifestyle of some sort, which voluntarily places them in a higher risk category. However Toronto has seen a few seemingly random public shootings as of late, which as Toronto Police Staff Inspector Greg McLane said, is “not the norm.”

Buying a handgun in Canada involves a fairly rigorous process, including background checks, so many guns used in crimes have been either stolen from legal owners or imported from the US, where they are a dime a dozen. Let’s be honest, just about anyone can buy one (or ten) there; they are insecurely kept in purses, glove boxes, night stands and pockets; and record keeping for legally owned guns is abysmal. Canadian law enforcement works hard to keep American guns out.

Even though our legislation is tighter, police experts in handgun trafficking tell me that it’s still possible for a person without a criminal record – the girlfriend of a gang member, for example – to legally buy a dozen handguns or more. Sometimes multiple handguns of the same brand, model and calibre are purchased.

Who needs several identical handguns? It’s not like buying extra rolls of toilet paper on sale at Costco. They are GUNS. Furthermore, police are not notified about large-scale purchases.

When one of the guns is found at a crime scene or in some gang-banger’s possession, police can, of course, trace it back to the original purchaser, who can then easily feign innocence, claiming it was taken without her knowledge. What an utter recipe for disaster. That is a door that needs to be slammed shut.

Canada needs to immediately study the possession of legal handguns and significantly tighten ownership laws to limit the number that can be used illegally or stolen to do harm. Government needs to act quickly before it becomes too late to turn back the hands of time. Look at the situation we’re seeing in the US, which seemingly has more handguns than people. How could the government try to reduce the number of handguns in such a society?

Yes, there are legitimate “collectors” out there. Government would have to consider that in some cases guns have been legally handed down through generations – but some owners did not inherit their guns and are not target shooters. Some folks just like to buy and own handguns. Others buy them for “protection” or to use them in crimes.

One gun-loving friend recently compared gun lovers to motorcycle owners. I love my motorcycle but no one can haul my 800 pound Harley into a corner store or bank and use it to commit a violent robbery. Nor is anyone likely to steal it to run down a group of people in a shopping mall.

Only law enforcement, properly licensed security professionals, the military and legitimate target shooters should be able to possess handguns. Perhaps “authentic” sport shooters could be authorized as well – if they to belong to a licensed shooting club and have their guns securely stored there – not at their residence or office. Anyone else found with a handgun in any other circumstance should be arrested, charged and given a severe penalty upon conviction.

Government needs to send a clear legislative message to those who flout the laws and illegally possess or carry handguns and/or use them during the commission of crimes. This would support the many programs by police and other agencies to steer youth away from the lure of guns, gangs and other destructive lifestyles. Appellant courts haven’t traditionally supported harsh minimum sentences for gun crimes, but it’s time to push again.

Many constantly profess that “Guns don’t kill, people do.” Yup, you’re right, but people would kill a lot less people if they didn’t have handguns.

“Knives kill too,” is another common argument. “Are you going to ban all knives?” Another valid point, but knives have many valid uses and I don’t recall any mass knifings in movie theatres or schools or drive-by knifings.

Handguns are for shooting targets and killing people. Canada needs to control possession so only targets and tin cans are shot on the northern side of the border – not innocent people.