Toronto politicians demand Ottawa ban all handguns
ANTHONY CAPUANO AND ANTHONY REINHART
From Tuesday's Globe and Mail
January 15, 2008 at 5:50 AM EST
Toronto politicians are calling for their federal counterparts to totally ban handguns three days after a shooting outside a downtown strip club left an innocent bystander dead.
"It's inappropriate for citizens of this country to own a handgun, there's no need for it," said Councillor Michael Walker, who put forward the motion to council.
"It's the only way to stem the tide of violence in our cities. ... Mr. O'Keefe was a victim of that violence," said Mr. Walker (Ward 22, St. Paul's).
John O'Keefe, 42, was shot early Saturday morning near Yonge and Bloor Streets. Police believe he was hit by a shot aimed at a bouncer who ejected two men from the Brass Rail Tavern. Edward Paredes, 23, and Awet Zekarias, 22, were charged with first-degree murder and appeared for a bail hearing at Old City Hall yesterday. The semiautomatic handgun allegedly used was legally owned by Mr. Paredes, according to Toronto homicide detectives.
At City Hall yesterday, Mayor David Miller voiced his support for a handgun ban. "It is time to say once and for all we don't accept the ownership of handguns in our society,"
Mr. Miller told reporters.
The motion is set to be voted on by council Jan. 30.
Not all are convinced such a ban would be effective. Councillor Michael Thompson said he supports increased penalties, but is skeptical of a handgun ban: "It is a great thing to say, but ... the practical ability to enforce it is impossible."
According to the Chief Firearms Officer, there are 150,000 legal handguns in Ontario.
Acquiring a legal handgun in Canada has been a complicated process for many years, which is why Tony Bernardo, executive director of the 15,000-member Canadian Shooting Sports Association, called the killing a "tragic anomaly" in that a legally obtained handgun was used.
A handgun ban would remove legal weapons from circulation, but they are rarely used in crime, he said, citing statistics from the federal Justice Department.
"In 2006, 2 per cent of the firearms homicides in Canada were done with a legal firearm," and not necessarily by the gun's legal owner, Mr. Bernardo said. "The year prior to that, it was 4 per cent. We're talking about something that statistically is so small, it isn't significant to even count it."
With a report from Jennifer Lewington
The rules of ownership
Prospective handgun owners must:
Obtain an application for a possession and acquisition licence under the Firearms Act.
Pass the Canadian Firearms Safety Course and the Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course.
Send the application, including two references, a photo and disclosure of conjugal partners and mental-health history, to the Canadian Firearms Centre in Miramichi, N.B.
Undergo checks on spousal history, references and police background. Depending on what the checks reveal, the application can be rejected and forwarded to the Chief Firearms Officer (CFO) for further investigation.
Await arrival of the licence by mail.
Join an approved handgun club, complete another handgun safety course and serve a probation period.
Apply, through the gun club, for an Authorization to Transport (ATT). If approved, the handgun can be bought and taken home. A further ATT is required to take the gun to an approved range, according to a prescribed route, with no stops allowed along the way.