handgun ban

Violent Long Weekend Fuels Talks of Potential Handgun Ban in Toronto

Written on Behalf of Affleck & Barrison LLP

The Civic Holiday long weekend in early August resulted in 17 people shot during 14 separate incidents in Toronto.

WHAT HAPPENED?

The first gun-related incident of the long weekend started at approximately 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 3, 2019.  Police were called to the Dufferin Street and Glen Long Avenue area where they found two male victims with gunshot wounds.

On Sunday, August 4, 2019, a man, whose identity has not been revealed, was left with life-threatening injuries at an Airbnb in one of the most affluent neighbourhoods in Toronto, the Bridle Path (south of Bayview Avenue and York Mills Road).  Officers arrived at the property and found a man, conscious and breathing, lying on the ground, suffering from a gunshot wound to his upper body.  He was immediately taken to hospital and stabilized.  It has been reported that between 20 and 30 people were at the home, which was being rented as an Airbnb.

Later on Sunday, a man received non-life-threatening injuries following a gunshot  in Liberty Village.

At least five people were injured at a nightclub in suburban North York early Monday, August 5, 2019.  One male was found to be in life-threatening condition and four others were found in non-life-threatening condition.  It was also reported that two more victims of this incident took themselves to hospital, but police have not confirmed that these two victims were injured in the nightclub incident.

Hours after responding to the nightclub incident, police were called to Lombard Street near Church Street and Richmond Street East.  Police reported that three individuals were injured after a vehicle was shot.

Police also responded to a gun-related incident shortly before 5 p.m. on Monday, August 5 in the Lawrence Heights area, just south of Yorkdale Shopping Mall.  A man was taken to hospital with gunshot wounds, which were found to be serious, but not life-threatening.  Another victim was able to make it to hospital on his/her own.

Later in the day, police responded to multiple gunshots heard in northwest Toronto.  Another victim of gunshot wounds was found.

Police Chief Mark Saunders does not believe that there is a connection between any of the shooting incidents in the city. 

TORONTO MAYOR CALLS FOR HANDGUN BAN

Toronto Mayor John Tory released a statement calling the gun violence in Toronto “absolutely unacceptable”. 

Mayor Tory continues to advocate for a ban on handguns to address the perilous gun violence in Toronto.  He stated:

The gun violence we have seen in recent days in our city is absolutely unacceptable. … I remain firmly of the belief that a handgun ban will help us address the gun violence we are experiencing in our city and the surrounding area.  I led city council – joined by other major Canadian cities – in sending a clear message on the need for a ban on handguns, assault rifles and semi-automatic firearms.  This was always put forward as a part of the answer to gun violence together with changes to other laws affecting things like bail, additional support for police, and the paramount need for all three governments to invest together in kids, families and neighbourhoods.

Police Chief Mark Saunders responded to questions regarding a potential handgun ban by saying that “anything that removes a handgun, it is a good day in the city”.  He stated:

I’ll let the politicians work on that one.  I’ve got people that are shot.  I’ve got people that are shooting people.  I’m going to use my resources and all of my energy to solve these cases and bring them before the court systems. 

Chief Saunders has responded to the weekend of violence by advising that there will be additional resources in certain parts of the city to deter and reduce the gun violence.  He did not indicate what measures would be taken or which parts of the city the police would focus on. 

Mayor Tory announced earlier this week that the city of Toronto will be receiving $4.5 million to help fight gun violence from all levels of government, including the municipal, provincial and federal governments. However, it remains unclear as to how the funds will be utilized.

Chief Saunders advised that the police service will provide more information regarding its plan of how to use these additional funds shortly.

GUN-RELATED VIOLENCE STATISTICS

According to Statistics Canada, gun-related violent crime has been increasing since 2013.  Between 2013 and 2017, gun crime increased by 42% in Canada. 

According to Toronto police, shooting deaths in the city are at a three-year low.  Only 19 people have been killed as a result of shootings in Toronto in 2019, which is down from 30 deaths recorded last year at this time.

Gun violence in the city of Toronto is also comparable to past years.  There are 244 recorded “shooting occurrences” in 2019, which is comparable to 238 occurrences in 2018 and 226 in 2017.  There have been 365 victims of shooting occurrences in 2019, 324 victims in 2018 and 335 victims in 2017.

We will continue to follow the anticipated police service plan to utilize the funds provided by all levels of government to fight gun violence in Toronto and will report any developments 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.