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Handgun ban wouldn't make streets safer: Day
Updated Mon. Jul. 23 2007 8:28 PM ET
CTV.ca News Staff
Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day says banning handguns would not make Canadian streets safer, despite countering statements made earlier by Toronto's mayor and Ontario's attorney general.
Day's comment comes in the aftermath of the weekend murder of a Toronto boy who was caught in the crossfire of a gang shootout.
"We have looked at other jurisdictions that have put in bans on handguns, and it has not reduced crime with firearms, crime with handguns," Day told CTV Newsnet in an interview from Kelowna, B.C. on Monday.
"What does reduce crime with firearms, what is effective, is to have more officers on the street, which we are funding at the federal level -- a more aggressive approach to gun-smuggling."
Day said the message needs to get out on the street that those caught committing crimes with firearms face mandatory jail time.
"That's the way to reduce gun crime. That's what we want to see happen," said Day, who added that it won't happen unless the Conservative government gets the support of the Opposition Liberals.
"They're not supporting us on this area of getting tougher on gun crime."
Earlier in the day, Toronto Mayor David Miller said the death of 11-year-old Ephraim Brown is yet another wakeup call that there are too many handguns on Canadian streets. He said it's time the Conservatives took action by outlawing handguns completely, and by standing up against U.S. gun laws.
"It's within the hands of the prime minister, but I really believe it's time for the Canadian government at a national level, to say to the United States of America: 'We're good friends, but your gun laws are exporting a problem to our country. It's not acceptable anymore, and you need to take action."
Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant said he will push Prime Minister Stephen Harper to ban handguns, tighten up the gun registry and put into place safe storage rules.
"Some people will point out that gun crime is down in Toronto," he said. "Tell that to the family of the 11-year-old who died of a gunshot. We had a weekend of tragedies. We have to redouble our efforts. We have to continue that work tonight, tomorrow and hereafter."
Day said the current law allows only target shooters and "certain types of collectors" to acquire handguns. He said there needs to be an aggressive approach to gun smuggling. "That's where the problem comes, not the target shooters who are the law-abiding citizens, but the illegal ones. That's where we need to see the focus."
Day said the Conservatives government, which has repeatedly painted the Liberals as being "soft on crime," said there is also comprehensive plan to address the root causes of crime.
"I just announced recently $16.1 million to go into programs to reach out to youth at risk -- communities where there seems to be a higher precedence of this type of activity, looking at families that are vulnerable," he said.
"We also have to reach out -- there's not just the long arm of the law but the open arms of the community. We have to use that also in terms to have an effective process of seeing gun crime go down and offering young people better choices."