Two days ago, during the pomp, circumstance, and celebration of the Toronto Raptors celebratory parade, a brief but serious panic erupted in Nathan Phillips square after the sounds of gunfire caused raptors fans to scramble, many fleeing for safety.
Though not all details are known, reports are now saying four people were shot at the event, and three suspects were arrested moments after the shooting.
Two other suspects were also arrested and a second firearm was recovered.
Though the legality of the handguns is not yet known, there are already some calling for stricter handgun laws to be put into place. Some, like longtime public commentator Warren Kinsella, believe that handguns should be “restricted to cops and military,” an idea that has absolutely no holes in it whatsoever.
I’m not here to—no pun intended—jump the gun. We do not know if the weapons seized yesterday were legal or illegal. Yes, it’s scary when gun violence erupts at events with large crowds. It was supposed to be a lovely day of fun in Toronto yesterday, and for many, a bitter taste was left in the mouths of fans. It’s incredibly tragic that someone was shot, and steps should be taken to ensure things like this don’t happen. But overreacting is not the right solution.
There will be politicians who use this event to say that all guns should be banned in Canada. Toronto Mayor John Tory himself has reached out to the Trudeau government for assistance in implementing tougher gun laws in his city.
According to Mark Towhey from Sun News, Tory has even admitted to calling for a flat out handgun ban, based on a 2-year-old report that had since been repeatedly & publicly disproven by data released by Toronto.
Just last week, the Toronto police chief had to publicly announce the rejection of the possibility of a full ban on handguns, “despite official requests from the cities of Toronto and Montreal.”
Shootings like these serve as easy ammunition for anti-gun activists. The problem is that, often, the people who make the laws surrounding guns know very little about guns or gun culture. People like John Tory would prefer that handguns magically disappear, rather than looking for realistic solutions to a complex problem.
As we saw with the 2018 Danforth shooting, gun crime with an illegally imported handgun from the U.S. is still grounds for Tory to take anti-gun action, where he later discussed the “legality of guns” with provincial and federal officials.
A gun buy-back, an idea that has already been rolled out during Tory’s tenure as mayor, has proven to be somewhat effective in getting people to sell their weapons. According to CBC, the city of Toronto purchased over 2700 guns from citizens.
But spooking law-abiding gun owners into giving back their antique rifles isn’t exactly a fool-proof plan. To collect that many guns from a city is one step, though it’s still unknown how it will play out over the summer. According to the current government’s theory, fewer guns will equal less crime. The fewer guns that citizens have, the fewer gun homicides will take place.
The results are obviously yet to be seen. Historically speaking, gun buy-back programs have seen everything from poor to less-than-stellar results.
Years ago, USA Today reported, “Spread across tables or piled high into overflowing stacks, all those weapons reinforce the notion that trading cash for guns works. It gets guns off the street, organizers say, and makes the city safer. The problem, according to years of research, is that it does neither.”
“Researchers who have evaluated gun control strategies say buybacks—despite their popularity—are among the least effective ways to reduce gun violence. They say targeted police patrols, intervention efforts with known criminals and, to a lesser extent, tougher gun laws all work better than buybacks.”
So to be cautiously optimistic about the Toronto gun buy-back is wise.
Taking handguns away from law abiding citizens will not stop criminals from using their weapons for harm. A full ban on handguns would be an expensive and ineffective way to handle such an issue. Criminals would still have access to these weapons, as weapons are still constantly being smuggled across the border.
A doctor must be honest to a patient about a diagnosis. John Tory needs to snap out of easy-fix gun fantasy world in which he lives, and realize that complex problems will not be fixed with simple solutions.