A ban on guns won’t curb violence in Canada’s cities

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

'Stop the senseless killings by banning all the handguns' seems like a reasonable thesis.

It's a theory being renewed by Canadians across the country after a week of shootings in Scarborough, downtown Toronto and even Colorado.

But is gun control in Canada even possible? According to the Toronto Star, there are almost 700,000 legally registered handguns in this country.  Toronto police estimate that about a third of the guns they seize come from domestic sources. The other two-thirds are smuggled into Canada from the United States — and therein lies the problem.

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The National Post's Matt Gurney recently wrote that a gun ban would not slow the inflow of illegal firearms coming from the U.S..

"Canada shares a 5,000 km undefended, and generally unpatrolled, border with the one of the most heavily armed countries in the world, a border that has proven entirely impervious to efforts to stop the flow of contraband, mainly drugs, previously," he wrote.

"It is ironic that during an era of increasing calls for drug law reform, driven by the complete failure of any North American government to interdict the flow of banned narcotics, that some still profess to believe that banning a handgun will work out better than banning drugs has."

[ Discussion: Are we becoming more violent? ]

In another column, Gurney adds that bans haven't worked in other jurisdictions.

"Chicago and Washington both banned handguns and saw increases in gun violence, as criminal enterprises did not hesitate to simply illegally acquire their pistols elsewhere," he wrote.

"And Australia, the only country in the world to have an entire continent to itself, saw no appreciable change its levels on gun crime after a sweeping ban on firearms."

On Monday, Toronto mayor Rob Ford, Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty, several of his government ministers and Toronto police chief Bill Blair will all meet at Queen's Park, the Ontario legislature, for a meeting on how to tackle gun crime.

It's expected that Ford will be asking the premier for more money for police officers assigned to the Toronto Anti Violence Intervention Strategy.

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More policing, tougher sentences for repeat offenders and even investments in low-income communities might be worthwhile tactics in the battle against gun crime.

But a ban on handguns is simply an exercise in futility.