Monday, January 21, 2008

Ban Hand Guns In Ontario ( Petition )

Ontario politicians call for handgun ban

Updated Fri. Dec. 30 2005 5:02 PM ET News Staff

Toronto Mayor David Miller and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty have called for a handgun ban, in the wake of the city's Boxing Day shootout.

Miller has urged all Torontonians to support whichever party would implement such a ban in the federal election.

"Torontonians should be saying to people in this election, 'What are you going to do about guns? Do you support banning guns?'" Miller said Friday.

He went on to say "a party that doesn't include gun control in its platform isn't addressing the issues in Toronto," referring to Conservative Leader Stephen Harper.

Both the Liberal Party and NDP have called for a ban on handguns.

McGuinty also called for a handgun ban in a statement released Thursday, saying "only severe penalties can clearly convey the gravity of gun-related crimes and our society's intolerance for them."

As well as a ban on handguns, McGuinty has called for:

  • minimum sentencing of four years for illegal possession of a handgun;
  • increased mandatory minimum sentences for any gun crime;
  • new Criminal Code offences for robbery or break and entering with the intent to steal a gun;
  • a reverse onus on bail for all gun crimes; and,
  • increased penalties for any breach of bail conditions.

Sheila Ward, chair of the Toronto District School Board, echoed the premier's urging of tougher penalties.

"I want to see federal criminal legislation that provides for a 10-year surcharge added on to any sentence for a crime in which a gun is in the possession of any of the perpetrators," Ward said in a statement Thursday.

"The sentence would not allow for any time off for good behavior, nor would it be eligible for any other reductions. Ten years is a full 3,650 days and if you have a gun it's going to cost you."

Miller has spoken with Police Chief Bill Blair to discuss other ways to fight gun-related crime in Toronto. The city will have 300 new police officers on the street by Jan. 16, where Miller says they are most needed.

"We need them there because when you have a strong, visible police presence, it shows people the community is safe and it's a deterrent to crime," Miller said.

"We also need them there because police need to be able to develop networks in communities to do their job properly so they get the proper intelligence, and so the people in the communities trust them and work with them, and feel comfortable coming forward as witnesses."

Miller said that about 200 officers will be re-deployed from desk jobs, while 144 officers were sworn in on Dec. 19 to start their training program.

The mayor has also considered installing surveillance cameras in the city. The Toronto Transit Commission is currently installing cameras throughout the subway system, as well as on buses and streetcars. Footage taken by the cameras is erased unless needed, to ease privacy concerns.

"I think surveillance cameras can have a role," Miller said. "They can have a role in helping solve crimes, and a possible role as a deterrent."

However, the mayor said it's more important the city invest money in community programs, especially in troubled areas where Miller said youth feel alienated and lost.

"We have to ensure that we invest in the right kind of programs for communities, so that we don't have a new generation of young people being involved in gangs and gun violence in our city," he said.

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