Gun laws need tougher consequences
The Woodstock Sentinel-Review
Tuesday November 15, 2005
The Woodstock Sentinel-Review — It’s time for Ottawa to get tough on guns.
What other solution can be reached after a rash of gun-related violence across the country over the last six months.
The latest incident occurred last week, when an 18-year-old student was hospitalized after he was shot and wounded outside a Brampton high school. Police said the victim was shot in the shoulder from behind as he sat in a parked car with another male at about 8 a.m. The victim suffered non life-threatening injuries and was able to crawl to the school office to seek help.
The shooting came on the same day Prime Minister Paul Martin visited one of Toronto’s most notoriously violent communities, where he announced more than $50 million for funding various anti-gang and anti-gun programs aimed largely at young people.
"Violent crime and gangsters have no place in our society," Martin said. "Gangs are taking our kids and handguns are taking their lives.... We’re talking about our youth, we’re talking about our families, we’re talking about our communities."
Martin said tougher laws are on the way to help stem the city’s recent surge of gun violence, a sentiment echoed by Federal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler. The minister was attending a two-day provincial and territorial ministers meeting in Whitehorse.
"We have a strong message with respect to those who would wish to engage in gun-related crime," Cotler said.
Included will be measures to strengthen the current mandatory minimum sentences that already apply to some gun offences.
Nowhere in Canada is the threat of gun violence more prevalent than in Toronto, where 44 lives have been lost to gunplay already this year. Incidents of gun violence or gun activity have also been more widely noticeable in Woodstock and London.
Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant has called for a "zero tolerance" policy on gun crime, calling for stronger sentences and "significant" jail time for anyone who uses a gun to commit a crime.
"If we don’t send that message, then we’re not providing the appropriate deterrent and punishment for an ever increasing scourge upon our streets in Ontario," Bryant said.
It’s interesting to note that such a problem exists 10 years after the Liberal government’s controversial gun control legislation was unveiled. Yes, under Bill C-68, the toughest gun control legislation the country had ever seen, harsher penalties were to be placed on serious crimes such as kidnapping and murder where firearms were used, while licences became mandatory for those possessing and acquiring firearms and those looking to buy ammunition.
The fact that the current Liberal government is being forced to enact even tougher laws is a clear indication that such legislation was, and continues to be, a colossal failure.
What’s truly needed in this country is legislation with some teeth — and that shouldn’t mean further restrictions for law-abiding citizens.
The time has come for Cotler to listen to Bryant, who is calling for stronger sentences and "significant" jail time for anyone who uses a gun to commit a crime.
It’s time for Ottawa to protect its citizens.
© Woodstock Sentinel-Review 2005