gun buyback program

Majority of Canadians Support Ban of Handguns

Written on Behalf of Affleck & Barrison LLP

The latest public opinion poll by the Angus Reid Institute reveals that half of Canadians consider gun violence a serious problem in Canada. 

Toronto Mayor John Tory has campaigned for a handgun ban and the Liberal government is facing pressure from gun control groups to respond to gun violence in Canada following the implementation of a ban on semi-automatic firearms by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after a deadly mosque shooting in Christchurch.

ANGUS REID POLL RESULTS

A recent public opinion study completed by the non-profit Angus Reid Institute surveyed 1,525 respondents across the country and is proportionally representative of Canadians from each region of the country.

The study has found that 61% of the respondents would support an outright ban on civilian possession of handguns.  This number rises to 75% in regards to a ban on assault weapons. 

When it comes to gun violence, rural and urban respondents voiced different concerns.  Respondents in Canadian cities are most worried about gang activity, while rural Canadians are more concerned about accidental shootings or the use of guns for suicide.

According to the survey, 63% of respondents were in favour of the proposal by the federal Liberal government to lengthen background check periods from the current five-year limit to include a prospective gun owner’s entire history.

WHAT DO CANADIANS WANT?

Bill Blair (“Blair”), Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction, recently stated that implementing a national handgun ban is a possibility. 

Blair was directed to study and consult on a full ban of handguns and assault weapons.  Beginning in 2018, he travelled the country to hold roundtables and public engagements regarding the issue of reducing violent crime involving firearms. 

Last month, Blair released his report entitled “Reducing Violent Crime:  A Dialogue on Handguns and Assault-Style Firearms”.  The report also included written submissions made by Canadians and responses recorded through an online questionnaire which included 134,917 total responses from Canadians (with no limits placed on how many times an individual could complete a survey).

The key findings of Blair’s inquiry include:

  • Polarized views on a potential ban and limiting access to handguns and assault-style firearms;
  • Many felt strongly that a ban would target law-abiding gun owners, rather than illicit gun owners, and would not greatly impact crime reduction (specifically gang violence);
  • Many supported enhanced enforcement capacity by law enforcement and border services, in addition to harsher punishments for those found trafficking in firearms and gun-related crimes;
  • Emphasis on more support for community-level programs and initiatives to address the socioeconomic conditions that lead to gun violence;
  • Emphasis on the need to improve the collection and sharing of data on gun crime; and
  • The need for a multi-faceted approach to dealing with violent crimes, rather than implementing a ban on guns.

Blair has advised that he has been reviewing the data, the experience in other jurisdictions, Canada’s regulatory environment and how firearms are used in criminal activity in Canada.

Blair stated:

… I believe that there are some things that we can do to create a safe environment, reduce gun violence in our communities and make it far more difficult for people who would commit crimes.

I believe there is an overwhelming consensus in this country that public safety is important, that we deserve to be safe in our communities and in our places of worship, and those weapons which have been used to kill so many people have no place in our society.

GUN BUYBACK PROGRAM UPDATE

We have previously blogged about the Toronto Police Services gun buyback program launched in an effort to reduce unwanted firearms and violence in the GTA.

As a result of this recent program, Toronto Police received more than 2,700 unwanted guns from residents during the gun buyback program that started on April 26, 2019 and ran until May 17, 2019.  These guns were all destroyed.

It has been reported that this was the most successful firearm collection in Toronto.  During the three-week program, police collected over 1,900 long guns and over 800 handguns.  In 2008, a similar program was launched resulting in a total of 2000 guns collected by police.

Chief Mark Saunders stated:

We are pleased with the participation of Torontonians taking steps to safely dispose of unwanted guns in their homes.  These guns can present a potential danger if they fall into the wrong hands.  Removing access to these guns, many of which are not securely stored, contributes to community safety.

We will continue to follow up on any developments regarding the government’s response to gun violence in Canada and will provide updates 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.

Toronto Police Announce Gun Buyback Program

Written on Behalf of Affleck & Barrison LLP

Toronto Police Services announced last week that between April 26 and May 17, 2019 they will be buying back unwanted guns from residents in an effort to reduce unwanted firearms and violence in the city. 

Last year was a particularly violent one in Toronto with 406 shooting incidents, resulting in 540 shooting victims and 50 homicides by gunfire. 

Durham region also experienced a trend of increasing violence.   It has been reported that there was a 27% increase in gun discharges and an increase in non-fatal shootings by 113% in 2018.  Almost half of the shootings occurred in west Durham, which includes Ajax and Pickering.

Durham Police Chief Paul Martin stated his concern for “the number of guns we are seizing and the number of guns being used in crimes”.  Chief Martin confirmed that many of the firearms used in these crimes were associated with gang activity and are typically smuggled in from the United States, stolen from legal Canadian owners, or obtained legally with legitimate licences and then sold to others who intend to use them for criminal purposes.

TORONTO GUN BUYBACK PROGRAM

According to Chief Mark Saunders, Chief of Police of the Toronto Police Service, Toronto’s gun buyback program “is a great opportunity for Torontonians to get rid of unwanted guns from their homes that present a potential danger if they fall into the wrong hands”.

Toronto residents can arrange for police to pick up a registered or unregistered gun for destruction and will be compensated $200 for a long gun and $350 for a handgun.  Those that turn guns over to the police will not face any charges for possession or the unsafe storage of a firearm.

Toronto Police advise that individuals should not bring guns to a police station or any City facilities.  In order to participate in this buyback program and arrange for an officer to pick up a firearm at your home, please call the Toronto Police non-emergency line at 416-808-2222 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Toronto police will test all firearms suspected of being involved in criminal activity collected through this initiative.  Those that have not been found to be involved in any criminal activity will be destroyed.

Toronto Police advise that a similar gun buyback program took place in 2008 and Toronto Police received 2,000 guns.

ONTARIO’S GUNS AND GANGS INITIATIVE

In addition to the federal government’s contribution of $11.37 million in funding over the next two years towards initiatives to reduce gun and gang crime, the government of Ontario recently announced contributing $16.4 million towards efforts to combat guns and gangs over the next two years. 

Part of the focus will be on providing resources and tools to support frontline police officers, law enforcement teams and prosecutors in an effort to combat gun and gang-related violence.  The emphasis will also be on initiatives to prevent crime and break the criminal cycle by focusing efforts on high-risk communities and youth.

The initiatives planned include:

  • Creating a guns and gangs enforcement unit to help local police and prosecutors through the use of province-wide intelligence gathering, integration and coordination;
  • Improved training for corrections officers to secure better intelligence to deal with gangs and contraband smuggling taking place in jails;
  • Creating “justice centres” in three cities (Toronto’s downtown East and Northwest neighbourhoods, London, and Kenora) to focus on prevention of gang activities by coordinating law enforcement and justice representatives with health and social services, and moving the justice process out of the courtroom and into a community setting;
  • Examining current discipline practices and data in 10 school boards (14 schools) to address the over-representation of certain individuals involved in suspension and expulsion;
  • Creating the “Youth Violence Prevention and Resilience Program” to support high-risk youth and young adults and their families in an effort to reduce youth violence, victimization and keep youth out of gangs;
  • Launching the “Indigenous Youth Prevention and Intervention Program” to focus efforts on keeping Indigenous youth out of gangs; and
  • Creating the “Gang Intervention and Exit Program for Indigenous Women” to provide community outreach, education and support to victims of gang violence and the prevention of exploitation, recruitment and victimization of Indigenous women and girls.

Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, stated:

We want youth at risk of coming into conflict with the law to build resiliency and gain important skills that will help them throughout their life.  We want to work with out partners to provide programs that strengthen communities, create safe neighbourhoods and set up all of Ontario’s youth for success.

We will continue to follow these police and government initiatives aimed at reducing gun violence in our communities and will report any developments as they become available 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 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.