Ontario AG calls for complete handgun ban
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Sunday, July 29, 2007 10:59AM EDT
The federal government is not committed to cutting off the gun supply, charged Ontario's Attorney General Michael Bryant, who is calling Ottawa to ban handguns outright.
Bryant is mounting a lobby campaign for Ottawa to implement a complete ban on all handguns.
"That is certainly what (Ontario Premier Dalton) McGuinty and I are pushing for," Bryant said in an interview with CTV's Question Period that aired on Sunday.
"That doesn't mean that something better than the status quo wouldn't be an improvement."
Bryant dismissed assertions that handgun ownership was already tightly restricted, saying that was a bit like claiming prostitution was banned in Amsterdam.
With half a million legal handguns, that was clearly not the case, he said.
"Either the original purpose of the handgun restrictions has been flouted or the law is not effective enough," Bryant said.
Bryant conceded smuggling was a source of illegal handguns entering the country but said another source was a homegrown problem, he said.
Thirty to 50 per cent of illegal guns on the streets are stolen from Canadian homes, Bryant said.
"One of the major sources of illegal guns is the 5,000 guns stolen from Canadians from their homes every single year," he said.
Bryant says his goal is to pull together a national coalition that would put more pressure on Ottawa to take action against handguns.
"The Conservative government says that it is committed to public safety. If you're committed to public safety, then you want to get the gun supply down, one way to do that very effectively would be to ban handguns," he said.
But Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day disagrees that a complete ban on handguns is the answer.
The "so-called ban on handguns simply doesn't work to reduce crime," he said.
"Handguns in Canada right now are very restricted as they should be, and as they will continue to be."
A handgun ban would end up being hugely expensive and waste valuable police resources on law-abiding gun owners, Day said, rather than focus attention on the criminals.
Instead, Day is calling for action against illegally smuggled handguns and mandatory jail terms for crimes committed with firearms.
"We want to do what works, we want to see crime reduced," he said.
McGuinty recently said his government wants to negotiate a deal with border states to keep drugs from heading south and stem the flow of guns coming into Ontario.
The Ontario premier said he's interested in bringing the governors of border states together to help eradicate the growing number of guns on city streets.
But, in return, Ontario will have to address the concern expressed by state governors that the province is "sending illegal drugs" across the border, McGuinty said.
Despite statistics that show violent crime on the decline, the number of shooting victims has been mounting in recent weeks.
Last Saturday, 37-year-old Glenn Brian Bourgeois was shot and left to die on a residential street in Halifax.
That same weekend, 11-year-old Ephraim Brown was shot and killed in Toronto after a shootout erupted between two rival gangs at a birthday party.
Also in Toronto, 19-year-old Jose Hierro-Saez was killed in a drive-by shooting that horrified the west-end community.
Two months ago, 15-year-old Jordan Manners, was shot dead at his high school.