Sunday, 29 April 2012

Gun Control in Toronto

Some residents of Toronto will recall the issue of gun control arising during the 2010 general election. At the time, then candidate Rob Ford stood alone amongst mayoral candidates in opposing the now defunct national long-gun registry, which represented a divergence from the consensus opinion in Toronto. However, it may not represent a divergence from opinion nation-wide. In the name of full-disclosure, it should be stated that I have personally support a firearms registry while opposing sport hunting as a matter of principle. But, in preparing to write this, I have found that my perspective, while commonplace in Toronto, is not so across this country. It is for this reason that I have concerns about changes that members of the current federal government are attempting to make to the Canada’s firearms ownership laws.

Rob Anders, a Calgary Member of Parliament (MP), previously best known for falling asleep in committee and referring to Nelson Mandela as a ‘terrorist’, has promised to use his new role as a member of the House of Commons standing joint committee on scrutiny of regulations to repeal strict firearms control provision established by the Chretien government in the mid-nineties.

In 1995, Allan Rock, then Attorney-General and MP for Etobicoke Centre, passed Bill C-68, requiring owners of firearms to lock and safely store the guns when not in use. The legislation also forced owners of restricted and/or prohibited firearms to obtain authorization-to-transport papers before taking them to a range, and established a more restrictive classification system. After a movement by Anders, committee and caucus colleague, Garry Breitkreuz, MP for Yorkton-Melville, the joint committee will review these regulations.

In my opinion, this is a cause for concern for Torontonians that support stiff firearms controls. Should Anders and Breitkruez succeed in their attempts to repeal such regulations (the party affiliations of committee members suggests they will), firearms will be all the easier to obtain in a city that is still recovering from 2005's ‘summer of the gun.’

There are many that frame this as a debate of ownership rights. Frankly, it is difficult to disagree with this assessment. It would not be appropriate to frame all firearms owners as criminals - many are collectors, many are target or sport shooters, some are even Olympians. It was in this line of thinking that, after raising the question of firearms ownership on Twitter ,I received comments such as, ‘I use my great grandfather’s guns. They do not belong on a list that would confiscate family heirlooms' (paraphrased). It may be difficult for most to disagree with this perspective; but, it must be noted that there are dangers inherent to firearms ownership. Rational owners will tell you this. The aforementioned regulations are important, as they prevent firearms from falling into the wrong hands. The long-gun registry is gone, but if these regulations do remain, hopefully Torontonians will not have to fear firearms finding their way into the wrong person’s hands.

[As published in the]

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