Archive for January 16th, 2008

New calls for handgun ban

January 16, 2008

There has been another unfortunate shooting in Toronto which has resulted in the death of a passerby. The murder weapon was a handgun and of course the shooting resulted in the expected cry from Toronto Mayor David Miller for a nationwide ban on handguns.

Toronto politicians are calling for their federal counterparts to totally ban handguns three days after a shooting outside a downtown strip club left an innocent bystander dead.

“It’s inappropriate for citizens of this country to own a handgun, there’s no need for it,” said Councillor Michael Walker, who put forward the motion to council.

“It’s the only way to stem the tide of violence in our cities. … Mr. O’Keefe was a victim of that violence,” said Mr. Walker (Ward 22, St. Paul’s).

John O’Keefe, 42, was shot early Saturday morning near Yonge and Bloor Streets. Police believe he was hit by a shot aimed at a bouncer who ejected two men from the Brass Rail Tavern. Edward Paredes, 23, and Awet Zekarias, 22, were charged with first-degree murder and appeared for a bail hearing at Old City Hall yesterday. The semiautomatic handgun allegedly used was legally owned by Mr. Paredes, according to Toronto homicide detectives.

At City Hall yesterday, Mayor David Miller voiced his support for a handgun ban. “It is time to say once and for all we don’t accept the ownership of handguns in our society,” Mr. Miller told reporters.

It is a typical response out of Hogtown, where the Mayor and his cohorts have localized violence problems and have no idea what the solution is. Their political response is to resort to rhetoric and a repeated call to ban handguns nationwide in an effort to convince their constituents that they are really “doing something positive”. Of course that allows them to place the blame on the shoulders of the federal government for not legislating a handgun ban thereby leaving them blameless for the whole situation.

The ban will no doubt be echoed by the Ontario provincial government who can use it as an opportunity to try and make political points with urban Toronto voters and at the same time try to pass it off as the federal government’s problem.

But it is obvious, probably even to the politicians calling for the ban, that banning handguns in Canada won’t solve their social problems in Toronto or anywhere else in the country. Which is not the point anyway, as we have seen in an infinite number of scenarios, politics isn’t about solving problems: it is about appearing to try to solve problems.

However, the obligatory rant aside, there are some things about this shooting that make me wonder if there is more here than meets the eye.

The handgun was legally owned and registered to a 22 year old man who had no criminal record. He and his friend were kicked out of a bar by a bouncer, although the police said that alcohol wasn’t involved. Then this young man and his friend, who also reportedly had no criminal record, went a short distance from the bar, then turned around, came back, and shot towards the building where a number of people were standing. Whether they were trying to shoot the bouncer as some stories have indicated or just shooting towards the building is not clear. Whether they had the gun on them when they were in the bar or whether they went to get it and came back is also not clear.

It would seem irrational that two supposedly law-abiding young men, apparently not drunk, would deliberately return and try to murder a bouncer who had ejected them from a bar. Yet people admittedly commit irrational acts of violence and possibly this was simply that: a stupid, violent act done out of anger. But, disturbingly, it was an act of violence not done in the heat of the moment, but with deliberate intent.

Hopefully the ongoing police investigation will shine some light into the dark corners of this crime and give us a better understanding of just how and why it ever happened.


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