Montreal City Council Votes to ask Ottawa to Ban Private Ownership of Guns
Montreal city council recently voted unanimously to ask the Federal Government to ban the private ownership of handguns and assault rifles. Allison Hanes writing for the Montreal Gazette asserts that that this declaration means that the city will soon lead the charge on addressing a serious national issue.
This move by Montreal comes as a show of support for Toronto who has witnessed a lot of tragic public shootings just this year alone. Toronto has witnessed over two hundred incidences of shooting this year, a recent tragedy was the Danforth shooting which cost the life of a bright ten-year-old girl and an 18-year-old woman. Montreal on its own has a low homicide rate, although it has witnessed its own fair share of terrible mass shootings in the past, such as the shootings at École Polytechnique in 1989, Concordia University in 1992 and Dawson College in 2006
Owing to this, gun violence has therefore become an important issue to confront in Canada. According to the data from Statistics Canada, 7,700 people were victims of offences involving a gun in 2017 — the fourth year in a row the number has climbed. Six in 10 crimes involving a firearm were attributed to handguns. Statistics Canada also reports that, despite recent events, cities like Montreal and even Toronto are relatively secure. The report says that crime rate in rural areas is 30 per cent higher than in urban centres. The highest per capita murder rate was in Thunder Bay, Ont., for the second year in a row, followed by Abbotsford, B.C., and Edmonton.
“There were 223 firearm-related homicides in Canada in 2016, 54 per cent of which were related to gang activity,” the report stated.
Although the handgun problem in Canada has been said to come from the influx of illegal handguns from the US, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders has recently informed the Toronto council that about half of the illegal guns’ police are now sourced right in the city, where people would buy them legally then resell them. An act known as “straw purchasing”. A provincial government task force investigating the issue in British Columbia just found that up to 60 per cent of crime guns recovered over three years were sourced from within Canada.
“What’s particularly troubling to me,” said Mayor John Tory, speaking on the issue, “is cases where certain licensed gun owners are able to amass small arsenals of handguns and that there are no red flags … I was further shocked to learn that there is no limit on the number of firearms any one licensed gun owner can purchase and possess.”
While a great number of handgun owners may be innocent of any crimes, the few bad eggs who buy and resell these guns to people who are not qualified to own them, have to be stopped as soon as possible, even if the price to pay requires taking guns away from both the guilty and the innocent.
“Canada may already be working on toughening gun laws,” writes Hanes, but it needs to rethink how many and what kind of weapons civilians are allowed to own.