Toronto mayor David Miller is on another push to convince the world that handguns are the source of all of Toronto’s troubles and if the federal government would only ban those damned things the country would be violence free.
Having no facts to back him up, Miller relied on the emotional approach to make his case.
In inviting speakers to the city’s executive committee to back his call for a handgun ban, Mayor David Miller yesterday uncorked a flood of emotion in Committee Room One. This committee is the Mayor’s salon, where one can speak personally to him (albeit on a tightly controlled agenda; he had security guards throw out a man protesting a lack of shelter beds).
It was a cathartic morning, like a therapy session for locals rattled by the spray of gunfire that has claimed so many lives in town in the past few years. It was also a shock: the range of speakers make it impossible to file “gun violence” as something that happens to someone else in a bad part of town.
Miller seems to think that handguns run around his city killing people on their own.
“Handguns kill people. They kill people who aren’t involved,” Miller told a press conference Friday, his voice breaking at times. “They’re used to kill family members.”
“We can choose to say that handguns are so dangerous and kill uninvolved people. And close the loopholes in the law,”he said. “We need to stop these crimes before they happen.”
Apparently there is some disconnect in his mind when it comes to the young thugs who are shooting each other and innocent bystanders over drug deals and turf wars. I find it hard to believe that Miller really believes that a ban on guns, even country-wide, would stop these shootings. A more disturbing thought is that Miller really does believe his own rhetoric.
Miller’s office has also started a petition which says: “Handguns are intended for one purpose and that is to kill people. Their presence in Canada has resulted in the deaths of far too many people and have no place in our country.”
Of course that is a patently false statement. Handguns are widely used for recreational shooting and competition. Trappers and other people working in the outdoors are licenced to carry handguns in their work. In the USA handguns are used for hunting in almost every State and would be welcomed by many hunters in Canada if the federal government would make transport licences available for that purpose.
In fact the only way that Mayor Miller’s statement would be true would be if his total handgun ban would come to pass. Then, other than the police, handguns would only be in the hands of the drug dealers and the gang members.
There are half a million handguns legitimately owned in Canada and if Miller’s statement had any validity there would be mayhem in the streets across Canada. That is obviously not the reality.
There are some commentators that have seen the flaws in Miller’s rhetoric.
Handgun owners are like smokers: Their habit is unpopular. They’d just as soon keep their heads down and let the politicians yammer away. But here’s the thing about Miller’s proposed ban. If introduced, it will have little, if any, effect on handgun violence anywhere in Canada. The mayor’s own statistics show between 60 and 66% of handguns seized by Toronto police are smuggled across the Canada-U.S. border.
Cops themselves will tell you the number is actually higher. Police officers have identified cross-border smuggling as by far the biggest part of the handgun supply problem.
Here’s a fact that’s mysteriously absent from Miller’s list of statistics: Of criminals convicted of serious offences using firearms in Toronto over the past five years, how many used legally registered handguns, belonging to a target shooter or a collector?
Mr. Mayor-with-a-Mandate sunk to a new low yesterday with his latest effort to ban all handguns, not just in his empire of Toronto, but in the entire country of Canada.
But in my view, Miller’s efforts amounted to little more than a sideshow that took advantage of the vulnerabilities of many of the poor deputants.
Frankly, I was rather sickened by Miller’s performance and that of some of his minions like Pam McConnell, who actually had the chutzpah to say she’s “tired of the words” and “tired of the tears.”
A different perspective on the problem of big city gang violence was taken by Vancouver’s Mayor, Sam Sullivan.
A mayor, reacting to killings on his city’s streets, can choose to adopt one of two attitudes. There’s the path of outrage and the simple idea; or there’s the more difficult path of circumspection and wisdom.
Toronto Mayor David Miller has chosen to take the first course, over and over again. Whenever someone is shot in Toronto, Mr. Miller expresses outrage, and demands that the federal government ban handguns. Every crime, to him, comes down to the same cause. Every story is the same story.
But the social factors that create crime are not simple. A ban on all handguns would certainly not end gun crime. It wouldn’t root out violence, or alter gang behaviour, or topple the markets in illegal drugs and weapons.
Mr. Miller is wrong to oversimplify the problem. Tragedies happen for many reasons. If all guns were “banned” in the sense that it was against the law to own any kind of firearm, there would still be shootings. We need politicians who are willing to keep asking why that’s so.
It is refreshing to see a big city politician show that kind of common sense and honesty. It would be nice to feel that more of our elected officials had that clarity of thought.