We hear a lot on the news these days about gun violence, especially in the large urban centres.
Recently Toronto set a record for homicides.
They have recorded 90 so far this year. That is one more than the 89 that was recorded in all of 1991.
More than one-half of those homicides were the result of gang members shooting each other in turf wars.
Now I am sure that many of us think that may not be so bad but law enforcement seems to take a dim view of anyone killing anyone for any reason even if it is criminals killing each other.
The Liberals and Conservatives have somewhat different theories on how to best combat illegal gun violence.
The Liberals and the Toronto mayor think the best way to solve the problem is to outlaw all handgun ownership.
Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives have developed a seven-point policy position on curbing gun and gang violence.
While I agree this is the right approach to tackle the problem of guns and gangs, I don’t think that it goes far enough to be really effective.
Included in these ideas are: prison time for knowingly possessing a smuggled gun, creating a Canada Border Services Agency task force to stop the importation of handguns, new penalties for selling guns to prohibited users, and lifetime firearms ban for violent and gang criminals.
This all sounds fine when you look at it on paper.
They are trying to solve a serious problem with the same toothless laws that are in existence now.
In fact, the Conservatives under Stephen Harper did toughen the criminal laws some but as soon as Trudeau came to power he relaxed them.
Contrary to what the Liberals think, it is not the guns that are the problem. It is the gangs and the gang members that are the problem.
I have said for years that there has to be a law that makes it illegal for a gang to exist and illegal for anyone to be a member of a gang.
With the number of guns that are in circulation now, it is impossible to disarm the criminals. The focus has to be on removing the criminal.
Unless they are actually arrested for murder, gang members are let out on bail soon after they are arrested, regardless of the offence.
Does anyone actually think that criminals follow bail conditions until trial? Not a chance! They go back to doing what they were doing before their arrest.
The Liberals have proposed Bill C-71 as an answer. This Bill targets the law-abiding citizen rather than the criminal by putting more restrictions on the citizen for owning and transporting handguns.
An e-petition has been signed by 86,000 Canadians to have this bill scraped as it does nothing to deter criminals.
This is a feel-good political law, that does not address the problem of illegal gun use and neither does the Conservatives lifetime ban for violent and gang criminals.
The law needs to target the criminal.
Those arrested and charged for gang activity should be locked up without bail until after trial.
If convicted the sentence should be no less than 15 years. This might provide some incentive to look for a safer occupation.
More preventive work needs to be done in urban schools to incent students into constructive activities and away from crime.
With the number of guns in circulation now it would be impossible to ban them in Toronto, or anywhere else for that matter.
The only solution I can see is to somehow remove the criminal from the street and that may require infringing on some human rights protocols.
by Herman Schwenk