Windsor mayor says federal handgun proposal needs to be revisited

·2 min read
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens is critical of Ottawa's plan to allow municipalities and cities to ban handguns. (Dale Molnar/CBC - image credit)
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens is critical of Ottawa's plan to allow municipalities and cities to ban handguns. (Dale Molnar/CBC - image credit)

Drew Dilkens is questioning why Ottawa wants to give municipalities the power to ban handguns, and whether the strategy would be effective.

The mayor of Windsor said the proposed legislation would create a patchwork of rules from one area to the next that would be difficult for gun owners to understand.

"The absurdity of this is that you could legitimately have the City of Windsor say 'No, we ban handguns within the city limits,' and every municipality in Essex County say 'yes,'" he told host Tony Doucette on CBC Radio's Windsor Morning.

The federal government introduced new gun control legislation this week. In addition to allowing municipalities to make handguns illegal, Ottawa is proposing a buy-back program for barred firearms and increased criminal penalties for gun smuggling and trafficking.

When it comes to handguns, Dilkens said if the federal government is trying to address a national issue, a strategy that applies coast to coast is needed.

"It's kind of crazy, to be honest with you," he said. "So I think they need to take this back."

Federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, who joined Windsor Morning in a separate interview on Thursday, said the legislation includes stronger measures on handguns directly in response to concerns expressed by cities and communities.

"But we've also heard from some communities that said they would like to do more," he said, adding that the government is not compelling any municipal government to take further action.

If the legislation is passed, Dilkens didn't indicate either way whether the city would ban handguns, saying it would require a discussion at council.

More details are needed about how it would work and what would be required of the city in terms of enforcement, Dilkens said.

Dilkens said those who own legal guns have to go through extensive training, registration and background checks. He questioned how the new power for municipalities would tackle the issue of illegal guns.

"If they have a goal of reducing illegal handgun ownership, me sending out the bylaw officer who's dealing with dirty yard complaints and, you know, parking tickets and dog licences — that is a framework that I don't see being successful," he said.