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Why did Toronto Mayor John Tory back off a city-wide handgun ban?

In a surprise announcement this week, Toronto Mayor John Tory walked back his long-standing position of a city-wide handgun ban.

Our police services have been clear that the vast majority of guns being seized are illegal guns from the U.S.,” Tory wrote on Twitter.[i]

It’s refreshing to hear Tory admit illegal guns from the U.S. are the problem.

This tacit admission that the Liberal government’s proposed “assault-style weapon” buyback program won’t (and can’t) stop gang shootings in Canada’s largest city is quite a shift for the mayor who, at one point, requested legal gun owners leave Toronto.

“If it’s someone who’s involved in a gun club, perhaps they could do that somewhere else…”

He made no such demand of all the drug dealers, gangs or other violent criminals responsible for shooting up the streets of Toronto.

“As elected representatives of our community, we also committed to lobbying for changes to the legal system so there are tougher bail laws and sentencing for repeat offenders who are caught engaging in gun violence and trafficking illegal guns.”

Mayor Tory also seems to be paying attention to the CSSA’s calls for government to track individuals with firearm prohibition orders registered against them.

The 2018 Commissioner of Firearms Report says that, as of December 31, 2018, there are 459,538 individuals prohibited from possessing firearms.[ii]

Through a series of Access to Information requests, firearm researcher Dennis Young discovered no agency at any level of government tracks these violence-prone individuals.[iii]

In November 2019, a search of news reports revealed 41 people with firearm prohibition orders against them were re-arrested while illegally possessing firearms.

In December 2019, a search of news reports revealed another 38 repeat offenders were arrested.

There is also no plan for ensuring all guns are removed from the subjects of firearm prohibition orders.

In the case of Francois Pepin, a man with a history of violence and threatening police, this lack of follow-through cost Laval Police Constable Valérie Ginac her life. Pepin shot and killed her on December 14, 2005.[iv] 

If we want to stop repeat offenders, our very first step must be to ensure those offenders obey the conditions of their release, including firearm prohibition orders.

If Mayor Tory is finally seeing the light, we applaud him.

We encourage him to urge the federal government to introduce legislation so those who have already proved they are a danger to society – those with firearm prohibition orders imposed by the courts – can be monitored and tracked with at least the same diligence as RCMP-vetted, federally licenced gun owners.



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