After another gang shooting that killed a second bystander in Toronto, Mayor David Miller again called for a nation-wide ban on handguns.
The mayor repeated his call for the federal government to outlaw handguns, a plea he made just days ago following the shooting of another bystander, John O’Keefe, last Saturday morning on Yonge Street.
“These challenges aren’t just in Toronto. They exist across this country,” Mr. Miller said.
But of course the problem is mainly in Toronto and to a lesser degree in Vancouver where gang violence is also a problem.
Then, as was to be expected, federal NDP leader, Toronto Jack Layton also rose to the occasion.
Standing near the Chinatown East grocery where clerk Hou Chang Mao was killed by a stray bullet Thursday while stacking oranges outside, federal NDP Leader Jack Layton yesterday joined Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Toronto Mayor David Miller in urging an absolute ban on handguns.
Nothing like a good photo-op for a politician.
But despite the emotional entreaties by those politicians looking for a global solution to a local problem, the MSM had a more pragmatic view.
The National Post said, in part:
If restricting ownership of handguns among ordinary law-abiding citizens had a positive impact on crime, our existing laws would already have produced the benefits. Since 1934, anyone wanting to own a pistol in Canada has had to be registered with the RCMP or the federal gun registry. The application process is long and arduous. The fact that almost no registered handgun owner ever commits murder or other forms of violent crime in Canada (one of the recent Toronto shootings being a noteworthy exception) is a testament to the thoroughness of the background checks.
The Windsor Star noted:
Banning handguns will only prevent legal handguns from being used in crimes because there will be no legal ones. A ban would target thousands of legitimate gun collectors and target shooters in the hamfisted attempt to prevent those exceptional and rare instances where legal guns are used illegally. It would do nothing to stop the smuggling of handguns across the border from the U.S. and nothing to dissuade thugs from using firearms in the first place.
The Toronto Star advised Miller and Layton to look towards Great Britain for the failure of their ideas.
If Miller and Layton truly believe a nation-wide handgun ban would bring n end to gun violence on the street, perhaps the two should take a tour f Great Britain where handguns were banned a decade ago, and where the dismal failure of that ban is evidenced by the fact that gun crime on the streets of England is today being vividly described in newspaper
headlines as a “scourge” — with three people getting shot every day, and with one in 10 of them being under the age of 14.
And the Ottawa Citizen was even more pointed in its comments.
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.
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.
Sam Sullivan, the mayor of Vancouver, also had to respond to a very public fatal shooting, this one occurring Saturday. Two men were killed in what looked like an organized hit, in a busy, commercial area.
Ontario and federal politicians have tended to treat every shooting in Toronto as the harbinger of armageddon. In contrast, Mr. Sullivan has put the shooting in Vancouver in a reasonable context, saying that the police have done a good job of fighting gang activity, but that they can’t prevent every crime. And while he’s no fan of easy access to handguns, he’s suggested that more useful efforts to reduce gun violence will entail reducing the trade in illegal drugs.
The difference between Mr. Miller’s approach and Mr. Sullivan’s is subtle, but important. Politicians have a lot to gain by making problems look both simple and huge. They can get a lot of people on their side that way. But that does a disservice to citizens, who deserve to know the subtle, complicated truth.
It is too much to hope that Messrs. Miller and Layton and the others who parrot their position will read these commentaries and rethink their positions. At the least, we can only hope that they experience some private embarrassment the next time they step in front of the media to promote their self-serving agendas.