Editorial: Toronto's mayor on a wild gun chase

Last week, the mayor of the City of Toronto, Ontario (Canada) decided that he could shift the blame for a recent spate of gun violence in his city off of himself by blaming America.

In a (Canada) National Post story entitled "Shootings leave Toronto bloody", it is the sub-heading which takes the cake: Mayor blames lax U.S. gun laws after day of gunplay. The story quoted Mayor David Miller blaming lax gun laws in the United States for some of Toronto's violence, saying half the firearms in the city originated in America.

    "It really is time to establish an effective strategy, working with the United States, to stop the easy access for guns that people are going to bring to Canada," Mr. Miller said.

    "It's a huge problem and it's just not acceptable."

That's right - rather than focus on the complete failure of Canada's socialist gun control laws and gun registration schemes, which have cost that country's citizens dearly in both money and blood, Mayor Miller says it's America's fault, despite having presented NO evidence that any of the firearms used in this and the many other recent gang-style shootings listed in the story came across the border.

Many pro-gun American commentators and bloggers quickly pointed out the ridiculousness of the claims, but now, surprisingly, a Canadian editorialist has done so as well.

Click on the "Read More..." link below to read this excellent editorial from the Calgary Herald (Alberta).

Toronto's mayor on a wild gun chase

July 30, 2005
The Calgary Herald (Alberta)

by Danielle Smith

Toronto Mayor David Miller has revealed an interesting new tactic in fighting
the war on guns: Blame America.

This week, a battery of shootings in Toronto provided the opportunity for
Miller to leap on a soapbox and advocate for stricter gun control.

Saying it's "not enough" that crime rates are dropping, Miller said the U.S.
's lax gun laws are to blame for Toronto-area violence and, "It really is time
to establish an effective strategy, working with the United States, to stop the
easy access for guns that people are going to bring to Canada."

How, pray tell, American legislators are supposed to know who intends to
bring guns into Canada, and develop laws to stop it, remains a mystery. Of
course, the gun control lobby may like to see U.S. laws changed to make it more
difficult for all Americans to purchase firearms, along the lines of Canada's
gun licensing and registration scheme (as if that would ever get past the
National Rifle Association).

In fact, the U.S. has taken a markedly different approach to gun laws than
Canada. As of January 2004, 38 states have passed "carry-and-conceal" laws,
which permit the carrying of concealed weapons and making it easier than ever to
own and use handguns for self-defence. Yet, violent crime has not increased in
the U.S. as a result -- it's actually decreased. And why wouldn't it? No
criminal in his right mind is going to mug a person on the street when there's a
good chance of getting shot.

Gun licensing and registration, meanwhile, has been a documented failure. The
2004 Homicide in Canada study proved what law-abiding gun owners have always
known: Criminals do not register their guns. Between 1997 and 2003, 86 per cent
of guns known to be used in homicides were unregistered and 80 per cent of the
perpetrators did not possess valid gun licences.

This is not the result of a lax U.S. system -- statistics from Australia,
England and Wales show the same results -- gun advocates are wrong to think that
onerous paperwork requirements are enough to prevent guns from falling into
criminal hands.

Torontonians should also not allow themselves to be frightened into believing
gun crime in their city is worse than it really is. Toronto has one of the
lowest homicide rates in the country -- the recent Statistics Canada crime
report found a rate of 1.8 per 100,000, which was less than Winnipeg, Edmonton,
Vancouver and even Calgary.

Nor is homicide taking a turn for the worse this year. Seven months into the
year, Toronto has logged its 35th homicide -- if it continues at this rate it
will be at 60 by the end of the year, compared to 64 in 2004, 67 in 2003, 62 in
2002, and 61 in both 2000 and 2001.

Guns aren't even a criminal's preferred weapon of choice. The Canadian Centre
for Justice Statistics shows that firearm homicides typically account for less
than one-third of homicides. In addition, even though there were 35,817 crimes
committed against persons involving a weapon in 2004, firearms were used in only
5,167, or 14 per cent, of the cases.

The Toronto Police Service used to post data on the number of homicides
committed in the city, broken down by the means (for instance in 2001, there
were 33 deaths by shooting, 11 by stabbing, eight by beating, one by
strangulation and seven by other methods). Now, they simply categorize crimes by
the nature of the offence, regardless of whether a firearm is involved.

This makes sense. A person killed by a gun, a knife or a baseball bat is just
as dead. What matters is the motive for the crime, not the weapon chosen to
commit it.

The 2004 homicide study found that 71 per cent of criminals were intoxicated
at the time of their attacks, 49 per cent killed while committing another crime,
34 per cent of deaths came after an argument or quarrel, and jealousy, financial
gain and mental illness were also noted.

"Easy access to U.S. guns" was not once mentioned as a precipitating factor.

Even if half of the illegal firearms in Toronto are from the U.S., as Miller
claims, gun smuggling is a Canadian border security issue. It's not up to U.S.
legislators to impose useless regulations on their citizens on the pretence of
making the job of policing in Canada easier.

Rather than tell the U.S. how to govern itself, Miller should tone down the
rhetoric, and stick to equipping his police force with the resources it needs to
combat crime.

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