Opinion Column

Concerted effort needed to subdue gangs 0

LEO KNIGHT
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty (second left), Toronto Police Chief Bill Blai (far right) and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (second right) were among those at a 'summit of the gun' meeting in Toronto Monday to talk about how to respond to recent gun violence. Gun control and money are not the answer, writes 24 hours columnist Leo Knight. (QMI AGENCY)

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty (second left), Toronto Police Chief Bill Blai (far right) and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (second right) were among those at a 'summit of the gun' meeting in Toronto Monday to talk about how to respond to recent gun violence. Gun control and money are not the answer, writes 24 hours columnist Leo Knight. (QMI AGENCY)

From a neighbourhood BBQ in Toronto's east end where two people were killed and 23 wounded to the horrific events in Aurora, Co., gun crime again became a hot topic on both sides of the border.

Last Friday, there were three more shootings in Toronto with four victims. So far this year, there have been more than 150 shootings in Toronto and well over 200 victims, dead or wounded - a 60% increase compared to this time last year. The story is much the same in cities across the country.

Unfortunately, events like this trigger inevitable calls for politicians to do something. Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and the city's police chief got together for a so-called "gun summit." The result was what you might expect: McGuinty promised to throw more money at a Toronto anti-violence strategy.

Following that waste of time, Ford met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper to discuss legislative possibilities to deal with the problem. Along with that were calls for more gun control from all the usual suspects on the political left.

All of which, of course, is nonsense. Handguns have been strictly controlled in Canada since 1934 and they are the weapons of choice amongst gangs.

The problem is the gangs and organized crime that control the drug distribution networks throughout the country. Gangs, gang activity, carrying and using weapons, drug importation and distribution are all already illegal.

What possible help could more legislation provide?

There has to be a concerted effort by all elements of the justice system in an integrated fashion to truly have an effect on gangs and guns. Just last month the country was horrified by the shootings at Toronto's Eaton Centre, only to learn later the shooter was on a court imposed "house arrest" at the time.

Equally, for more than 20 years there has been a law that says if someone uses a gun in the commission of an offence, they are subject to a penalty of four years in prison in addition to whatever sentence they might receive for the original offence. Unfortunately, few people are ever sentenced like this as it is most often used as a Crown bargaining chip to get a guilty plea to relieve a court docket staggered by a huge caseload.

The courts and the Crown need to accept their responsibility to protect the public from gangs and gangsters. Politicians need to better fund actual police organized crime units. Community neighbourhood groups need to work together with the authorities to ostracize gangsters.

Money, in and of itself, more laws and tongue clucking are not the answers.


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