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The survivors and families and affected community members that comprise the Danforth Families for Safe Communities experienced terror and tragedy from gun violence on a horrific night on July 22, 2018. It was a handgun that came to a retailer in one part of the country and was subsequently stolen and used in Toronto to kill a girl, a teenage woman, and injure thirteen (13) others. It is our view that despite our tragedy, as well as others before it and since, the country has not done enough to date to prevent similar incidents from occurring again.
We believe that the recipe for gun violence prevention is complex and will need many measures because the root causes and remedies for gun violence are varied. We have reviewed Bill C21, and from our point of view, believe it needs strengthening in some areas, but is comprehensive enough to benefit the safety of Canadians. We now call on SECU to work with urgency.
a. In the absence of the measures in Bill C21, the incidents of gun violence continue to grow 1 and more families are enduring what we have had to endure because of the trauma inflicted on them by abuse of firearms.
b. Our position is that Bill C21 is comprehensive in scope, addressing many issues we agree with, such as measures to prevent gun smuggling, and budget for the Building Safer Communities fund. Curbing gun violence is about more than gun bans and buy back programs, but we still hold that reducing the supply of the most dangerous guns – assault style rifles – and ones most often used in crime – handguns - is a necessary plank in the overall strategy.
c. We see that the government has adopted some of the recommendations made in “A PATH FORWARD: REDUCING GUN AND GANG VIOLENCE IN CANADA”. We ask you to consider others that can be accomplished through a commitment to budget and resourcing such as #4 (stronger commitment and resources for tracing).
a. What happened on the Danforth was enabled by a legal handgun that was imported legally, retailed legally, and stolen. Theft is a foreseeable and unfortunate consequence of retailing. That gun – a Smith and Wesson M&P 40 caliber handgun - should never have been on a retail shelf in Canada, given the risk.
b. While we have a supposedly burdensome and intrusive 2-step licensing process – the RPAL - handgun take-rate in Canada has grown faster than the general growth of guns since 2015 so now we have 1.1 million or so in private hands. The concern with dangerous products, is that with more of them in circulation, the absolute number of death and injury will rise … and that sad reality has indeed accompanied the rise in handgun ownership 1. Statistics Canada (StatsCan) data complied from police reporting shows the format most often used in crime is a handgun. StatsCan data shows that homicides and violence using a gun are on the rise in Canada1. Toronto Police Service data shows the same
c. StatsCan data complied from police reporting and trace efforts (such as they are) says that more traces lead back to domestically sourced guns than smuggled guns, contrary to anecdotal reports that smuggled guns from the US are 90% of the crime guns. This “90%” lacks consistent framing or context when quoted and is often number repeated but not attributed to any data source such as from RCMP national tracing and/or the Ontario FATE database, for example.
d. We also see evidence that thousands of handguns are lost or stolen each year. We find it beyond credulity that none of these become a source of crime guns – especially since this is exactly what happened to enable the Danforth shooter.
e. We see several media reports from accredited sources (see Appendix A of this brief) - that show incidents of loss, theft, diversion and illegal acts carried out by licensed owners - on Spadina Road this past spring as alleged and as a recent example, but there are many others.
a. Exemptions by their nature present opportunities to resist change and undermine the goal of freezing and reducing the handgun supply.
d. In our view recognizing less formal organizations such as IPSC, under the sport shooting exemption, would not restrict the assortment of guns in use. IPSC has five (5) categories for handguns 11 including an open category. In our view, the informality of IPSC versus the standards exerted by the IOC and ISSF, and the breadth of potential eligible guns that could be used, would be a pathway for continued growth of handgun ownership, undermining the intention of Bill C21.
a. We also draw attention to the business exemption – this exemption must be clarifies as applying only to security firms and the limited commercial sales channel that supports these users (as well as those who have the wilderness carry exemption).
b. The number of points of sale – retailers and distributors - involved should be dramatically reduced and tight regulations should be enforced around verifying purchasers using the business exemption, as well as those authorized to sell to that market.
a. Our crime was exacerbated by the fact that the shooter bought seven extra magazines for his stolen gun using his credit card. The shooter had no PAL.
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