Store guns in central depot
mayor: No reason to have a firearm at home, Miller says
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Gun owners in Toronto may soon be prohibited from keeping their firearms at home even if they are properly licensed and registered, Mayor David Miller said yesterday.
"There's no reason to own a gun in Toronto -- collector or not. If you are a collector and you have a permit, the guns need to be stored in a way that they can't be stolen. And perhaps a centralized facility of some kind could accomplish that goal," Mr. Miller told the National Post. "The law requires gun owners to have proper storage, but obviously not everyone adheres to that."
Following a spate of shootings in Toronto, the Mayor has asked city lawyers and the police to determine whether the municipality has the "legal ability" to require individuals to store their weapons at a secure facility such as a gun club.
"It's a very serious issue and I don't have all the answers to it, but I've spoken to the [Police] Chief as well as our own legal department to see what we can do," Mr. Miller said.
The Mayor has repeatedly blamed lax gun laws in the United States for some of Toronto's violence, saying half of the firearms in the city originated in the United States.
While pressing the federal government to stem the smuggling of guns across the border, Mr. Miller said steps must also be taken steps to address domestic gun problems.
"I understand there was one theft from a collector two years ago, where some of the guns were recovered after being used in murders in Toronto," he said.
Police have also speculated a theft in June of 46 handguns, along with three rifles and ammunition, from a collector in Port Hope, 100 kilometres east of the city, has contributed to the recent increase in shootings.
Mr. Miller noted several U.S. cities such as Chicago have passed ordinances restricting handgun ownership. But legal gun owners argue the new rules would only make life simpler for criminals.
"It would just put all the firearms in one place so they could all be stolen at one time," said Eric Greer of the Ontario Arms Collectors Association. "That would be a wonderful thing."
Mr. Greer added the Mayor's proposal would not prevent criminals from acquiring weapons, noting Canada enacted its first handgun registry in 1934.
"It hasn't made one iota of difference. And the reason is the people that registered their handguns don't commit the crimes. The people who commit crimes don't register their guns. It's as simple as that," he said.
Other gun owners said they are tired of being conflated with murderers and thieves.
"There are legal gun owners all over Ontario who don't go around brandishing their guns, who go through the whole rigamarole to get licensed properly," said Bill, a member of the Maple Leaf Revolver Club, who asked his last name not be used citing safety concerns. "The Mayor's not thinking properly."
He added most gun owners would support tough sentences for individuals caught using firearms to commit a crime.
"At most of the clubs, you will hear people say, 'Arrest the guy, look at the law and if the law says to throw him away for five years or 10 years, do it,' " the gun owner said.
Mr. Miller agreed the courts must be more stringent, noting individuals caught with weapons currently are routinely released on bail.
"If somebody has a gun, that's illegal, whether or not they've shot it should be irrelevant. They should be treated like they've shot it and tried to kill somebody," he said. "So when they come to court, they shouldn't get out. They should be kept in court until they're tried."