Firearms & Gun Offences

Gun Violence Increasing in Toronto

Written on Behalf of Affleck & Barrison LLP

The deadly rampage in Toronto last Sunday is just another tragedy in the growing list of fatal shootings in our city. In the wake of a violent summer and in an effort to reduce gun violence in Toronto, Police Chief Mark Saunders (“Saunders”) and Mayor John Tory announced plans to add 200 frontline officers to the night shift.

The additional police officers will be on the job between 7 p.m. and 3 a.m. in designated areas of the city that are in need of the added police presence. Officers will be focusing on areas where police have seen gun and gang activity. The increased police presence will last for an eight week period, at which point Toronto police will re-evaluate their needs.

Saunders clarified that neighbourhoods will not be inundated with police,

It’s about being focused and strategic in our deployment. This is not about turning communities upside down. That will never be the intention.

According to Toronto police, there have been 228 shootings in Toronto and 29 people killed in 2018. In comparison to 2017, at the same time of year there were 188 shootings and only 17 deaths. This is a 53% increase in shooting deaths since 2017. The increase has largely been blamed on gang activity.

The most recent tragic event involving gun violence in Toronto occurred on July 23, 2018 after 10:00 p.m. in Toronto’s Greektown neighbourhood. A 29-year-old gunman opened fire resulting in two innocent deaths and thirteen wounded individuals.

Following this recent rampage, Mayor Tory confessed that guns are too accessible in Toronto and stated:

We have a gun problem in that guns are readily available to too many people. The police are doing their best, but they’re operating under extraordinarily difficult circumstances to deal with these guns.

PLANS TO TACKLE GUN VIOLENCE IN TORONTO

Mayor Tory announced a $15-million plan to confront gun crime in Toronto. These funds are coming from all three levels of government. Some of this money will be allocated to 16 community initiatives aimed at reducing gun violence and preventing youth from joining gangs. These initiatives include new employment opportunities, job fairs in marginalized communities, establishing a children’s mental health recovery team, and the expansion of existing programs. Some of the money will be allocated to YouthWorx, which is a program by Toronto Community Housing that employs young people in various fields.

Toronto is also in the process of applying for federal funding available to municipalities through the National Crime Prevention Strategy.

 SHOOTINGS IN TORONTO THIS SUMMER

The following is a list of some of the shootings that have occurred in the Greater Toronto Area since the beginning of summer 2018:

  1. June 24: Two men shot and killed inside a home in Etobicoke;
  2. June 24: Drive-by shooting in North York;
  3. June 25: Man shot and killed inside an apartment building in the early morning in Toronto;
  4. June 28: Man arrived at a hospital in Toronto with a gunshot wound to his foot;
  5. June 29: Pedestrian and cyclist shot in Moss Park neighbourhood;
  6. June 30: Two men dead and another woman injured during a daylight shooting in Toronto’s Entertainment District;
  7. June 30: Teenage boy collapsed from a gunshot wound behind a church in the Downsview area;
  8. July 1: Man shot and killed and three others injured in a shooting in Kensington Market;
  9. July 3: Man suffered bullet wound to the hip in a drive-by shooting in the Fashion District;
  10. July 8: Man shot and killed in parking lot in North York, believed to be a targeted attack;
  11. July 9: Man killed in shooting in Black Creek neighbourhood;
  12. July 9: Man shot in the Annex neighbourhood;
  13. July 22: Woman and young girl shot and killed and 13 others injured on the Danforth.

FEDERAL REACTION TO TORONTO’S GUN VIOLENCE

Former Toronto police chief and current Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction, Bill Blair, reports that he has been in touch with Major Tory and Saunders to discuss the latest deadly shooting in Toronto and how Ottawa can support the city’s efforts to put an end to the increasing incidence of gun violence. Blair will be working closely with Public Safety Minister, Ralph Goodale.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Doug Ford have also had discussions following the latest shooting in Toronto about how the two levels of government can work together.

Premier Ford has also confirmed that all three levels of government will be working together to tackle the gun violence sweeping through Toronto. He stated:

As Premier, my commitment to you is that I will do everything in my power to keep our neighbourhoods safe. We will make sure our police have the tools and resources they need to do their jobs, and we will work with our municipal and federal counterparts to identify, apprehend and convict those who commit, or plan to commit violence.

TORONTO REQUESTS NEW TECHNOLOGY TO RESTRICT GUNS

Mere days before the horrific shooting spree, Toronto’s police services board had requested more security cameras and new technology to be installed in parts of the city to help curb gun violence. The board has requested more than double the number of closed circuit police cameras in public places where gang activity and gun violence are known to take place. This would bring the total number of police cameras to approximately 80.

The board is also requesting that the city implement “ShotSpotter” technology that uses microphones to detect and locate gunfire, and automatically informs the police.

It will cost $4-million over the next two years to implement both of these measures. This will likely be covered by the crime prevention funding from both the federal and provincial governments.

If you have been charged with a weapons offence or have any questions regarding your legal rights, please contact the experienced Oshawa defence lawyers at Affleck & Barrison LLP online or at 905-404-1947. We offer a 24-hour phone service to protect your rights and to ensure that you have access to justice at all times.

Proposed Gun Control Laws Aimed at Gun Store Owners

Written on Behalf of Affleck & Barrison LLP

On March 21, 2018, the Liberals introduced Bill C-71 to improve Canada’s existing gun control legislation. This legislation includes measures to broaden background checks for gun owners, toughen rules around the transportation of handguns, and tighten record keeping requirements for the sale of firearms. Bill C-71 proposes to make changes to the Firearms Act, the Criminal Code and repeals changes made by the previous Conservative Government.

In Canada, crimes involving firearms have increased by 30% between 2013 and 2016, with 2,465 offences occurring in 2016. Homicides involving guns have increased by two thirds between 2013 and 2016, with 223 homicides occurring in 2016.

The Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, stated:

While Canada is one of the safest countries in the world, increased gun crime has caused too much violence and taken too many lives in communities of all kinds. … With this legislation and our other measures, we are taking concrete steps to make our country less vulnerable to the scourge of gun violence, while being fair to responsible, law-abiding firearms owners and businesses.

GUN CONTROL LAWS IN CANADA

Gun control in Canada is governed by the Canadian Firearms Act and the Canadian Criminal Code. This legislation defines different types of weapons and set out rules regarding which weapons are legal in Canada and under what circumstances.

Canadian law classifies firearms as follows:

  • Prohibited:   .32 or .25 caliber handguns or those with a barrel length of 105 mm or less, automatic firearms, short-barrelled long guns;
  • Restricted:   handguns that are not classified as prohibited, semi-automatic long guns with a barrel less than 470 mm;
  • Non-Restricted: those not regulated as either restricted or prohibited.

A Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) is required to possess firearms. The eligibility for a PAL includes a background check to determine whether the applicant has been convicted of any of the designated offences, treated for any mental illness associated with actual or threatened violence, or has a history of behaviour that includes violence, or threatened or attempted violence within the previous five years.

Following a background check, an individual must undergo the “Canadian Firearms Safety Course” and pass the corresponding exam. The individual must also fill our forms and provide character references.

PROPOSALS FOR GUN CONTROL

Enhanced Background Checks

Bill C-71 proposes to expand background checks for those who want to buy a firearm. As described above, the current background check looks back on the last five years. It has been proposed that the RCMP examine any relevant information throughout the individual’s lifetime for prospective gun owners and those who have to renew their gun licences. The RCMP will complete an extensive background check looking into criminal, mental health, addiction and domestic violence records before authorizing an individual a licence to possess a firearm.

Once a licence has been issued, background checks will be ongoing to see if a licence holder has become a public safety risk.

Gun Shop Owner Obligations

Bill C-71 proposes changes to the responsibilities placed on gun vendors in Canada.

Under the new legislation, commercial gun shop retailers will be required to keep information about sales and inventory for at least 20 years, including the firearm’s serial number, the licence number of the transferee, the reference number and the day the reference number was issued. This requirement will not apply to private sellers.

Also, anyone selling or gifting a non-restricted firearm will be required to verify that the person they are providing the firearm to holds a valid firearm licence through the Canadian Firearms Program.

Police investigating a firearms crime can trace the owner of a gun through the licence number, but they are required to get a warrant in order to access the records held by gun shop retailers.

Transportation Regulations

Bill C-71 proposes that owners of restricted or prohibited firearms will need to obtain Authorization to Transport (ATT) documents every time they wish to take their guns anywhere other than a shooting club or gun range. Therefore, taking a firearm for servicing by a gunsmith or to a gun show would require separate authorizations to transport the firearm. However, authorizations to transport will not be required for non-restricted firearms.

If you have been charged with a firearm/gun offence or have questions regarding your legal rights, please contact the experienced Oshawa defence lawyers at Affleck & Barrison LLP online or at 905-404-1947. We offer a 24-hour phone service to protect your rights and to ensure that you have access to justice at all times.