What can be done to curb gun violence?

Anyone caught with a loaded, illegal gun will no longer face a mandatory minimum sentence of three years in jail.

The Ontario Appeal court ruled Tuesday that a three-year prison sentence for a first gun offence is "cruel and unusual punishment."

Since 2005 — dubbed "the year of the gun" — the federal government has focused on implementing mandatory minimum sentences for gun crimes as a deterrent and to reduce gun violence. The penalty was enacted as part of a Conservative omnibus crime bill in 2008, raising the mandatory sentence from one year.

[ Full story: Court rules mandatory minimum sentence unconstitutional ]

But critics have said that the increased mandatory sentence does more harm than good. Three years in prison does little in rehabilitating or retraining someone nabbed in a gun crime, they argue. It would simply ingrain the prison culture to someone who may have made a mistake.

"There is no question that a three-year mandatory minimum sentence is a severe sentence for the foregoing conduct," federal lawyers argue. "However, given the danger to which the hypothetical offenders subject the public through a deliberate act, the sentence is not grossly disproportionate."

Regardless of the intent, Ottawa will have to go back to the drawing board in efforts to reduce firearms on the streets and gun violence in our communities.

So we ask you: If mandatory minimum sentences are no longer implemented in sentencing first-time gun offenders, what can be done to curb gun use in crimes?

Have your say in the comments area below.

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