For the first time in Canadian law enforcement, Toronto Police have charged a convicted gun smuggler, currently in jail, with criminal negligence causing death. This charge was the result of a firearm smuggling investigation referred to as “Project 93”, spearheaded by Toronto Police’s Integrated Gun and Gang Task Force Firearms Enforcement Unit targeting cross-border gun smuggling between Canada and the United States.
Gun crime in Toronto and other large Canadian cities has hit an all time high. In Toronto in 2015 twenty-four people died from gun shot wounds and 126 people were injured following 288 total firings. These numbers have risen to 39 deaths and 126 injuries from 462 shootings in Toronto in 2020.
Approximately five years ago, investigators found that 50% of seized crime guns were traced back to cross-border smuggling. According to Detective Sgt. DiDanieli, seized crime guns are now being traced back to cross-border smuggling 90% of the time.
CRIMINAL NEGLIGENCE CAUSING DEATH CHARGE AGAINST JEFFREY GILMOUR
Jeffrey Gilmour (“Gilmour), a 44-year-old man who is currently serving a 3 ½ year sentence for firearms-trafficking offences, has been charged with criminal negligence causing death.
It is alleged that a revolver that Gilmour bought in Florida two years ago was used to kill a 19-year-old Toronto man in December 2019. Although police think that the gunshot was accidentally self-inflicted, they have charged Gilmour and want to hold him criminally responsible for the death.
Holding gun smugglers criminally responsible for deaths caused by the guns that they are bringing into Canada is akin to holding fentanyl dealers responsible for those that overdose or bartenders responsible for deaths arising from impaired driving.
Toronto Police learned from officers in the U.S. that Gilmour had purchased 24 guns in Florida. Gilmour was flagged for secondary screening at any border crossing. He was pulled aside at the border where agents found three guns in his car and another illegal gun at his apartment. Gilmour was charged with firearms trafficking in July 2019 to which he pleaded guilty.
Following Gilmour’s conviction, police continued to seize guns linked to those that he purchased in Florida. The gun used in the death of a man in a vehicle at Dufferin Street and Finch Avenue West in North York was another gun smuggled into Canada by Gilmour.
Detective Sgt. Robert DiDanieli of the Integrated Gun and Gang Task Force Firearms Enforcement Unit stated:
Those involved in the trafficking of illegal firearms show a wanton disregard for the lives of others by putting a lethal weapon into the hands of someone who is likely to use it for a dangerous purpose. …
Not only should they be held accountable for the offence of trafficking the firearm, but they should bear some responsibility for the crimes in which that firearm is used.
Given that this is a novel charge against Gilmour, securing a conviction may be a challenge. In particular, the Crown must be able to prove causation and the foreseeability of harm. In this case, there may be intervening acts that break the chain of causation.
We will continue to follow Gilmour’s criminal case and will provide updates in this blog.
PROPOSED FEDERAL GUN BILL CRITICIZED BY VICTIMS
The federal government first introduced Bill C-21 in February 2021, which in part aims to curb gun violence through stricter regulations. As we have previously blogged, this bill reinforces prohibited firearms, offers a buyback of banned firearms, allows municipalities to ban handguns and provides individual residents with the ability to ask for a court order to remove guns from an individual who may be at risk of harming themselves or others.
This bill has been highly criticized by victims of gun crimes, gun rights’ advocates and even convicts themselves.
Family members of those who died in shooting sprees at Montreal’s Dawson College and Concordia University have criticized Bill C-21 and called it “an offensively hollow bill”. In their letter sent to Liberal MPs, they state:
It looks like it was designed by public relations consultants, rather than by public safety experts. It looks like its sole purpose is to provide tough-sounding sound bites that belie the total lack of substance behind the ‘measures’ they purportedly describe. … The absence of any concrete proposals to stem the proliferation of handguns cements this government’s attempt to strengthen gun control as a resounding failure.
We will continue to follow the anticipated legislative reforms regarding firearms by the federal government and will report any developments regarding gun violence in this blog.
If you have been charged with a weapons offence or have any questions regarding your legal rights, please contact the experienced Oshawa criminal 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.