More money, new laws don’t stop gun violence
By Bruce A Stewart
Earlier this month, a tragic cross-fire shooting occurred at a neighbourhood block party at a public housing complex in eastern Scarborough in Toronto. Two were killed, 23 wounded at the scene.
The guns weren’t part of the party, but (it is alleged) represented a settling of accounts between rival factions in the city’s drug and crime gangs.
Since then, there’s been nothing but a steady stream of nonsense masquerading as “response” by the media and political class.
Mayor Rob Ford has done the rounds, meeting with both Premier Dalton McGuinty of Ontario and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
At first it looked as though McGuinty was going to do the right thing. When Ford asked for more money from the province to hire more police, McGuinty politely told him that policing was a municipal responsibility, and that Ford should look to his own budget to reallocate resources if that’s what he needed to do.
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Alas, McGuinty couldn’t leave well enough alone. Yesterday there he was, smiling his best Premier Dad smile for the cameras, as he announced $12.5 million to be made available for policing resources to deal with gun violence in Ontario’s cities. $5 million of that will go to Toronto — the rest of the largesse is headed to other places around the province.
On an over $15,000,000,000 deficit another $12,500,000 isn’t all that much, but not one penny of it needs to be spent.
Unless we want to live in a police surveillance state, where everyone is constantly a suspect for even walking down the street, there’s no hope of any of this borrowed money doing anything to stop the next flash outbreak of gun violence.
Amazingly, the people of Danzig St. (where this happened) get this. It’s clowns in high places who don’t.
Harper, in his turn, promised tougher laws when Parliament resumes this fall.
Apparently all the law toughening done to date, with all the mandatory minimum sentences, longer sentences and more types of crime over the past six years of Conservative government haven’t been enough.
Much like the Toronto Star‘s predictable call for a total handgun ban, this won’t do a thing.
Canada already has handgun bans, despite the attempts by media personalities to confuse the ending of the long gun registry with the handgun issue.
Astoundingly, having an additional charge levied against you, if you’re a gang member or a criminal, for possession of an unregistered and unapproved handgun doesn’t seem to deter a thing. Nor, astoundingly, do longer sentences, mandatory minimums or any of the other tricks of the lawmaking craft.
Nor does equipping police with ever faster cars, helicopters, tasers and a host of other high tech wizardry.
You want to make neighbourhoods safer? Get the police out of the cars, and back on the beat. Regular shoe leather walks make the constables on patrol part of the community in a way no police officers pulling up with lights flashing and sirens blaring ever will.
You want to beat back the gang culture? That would require tackling some of the factors leading to a permanent underclass having emerged in our cities. (What those are, and what to do about it, is very much open to debate, but dealing with causes rather than symptoms is the right way to go about it.)
Ford, McGuinty, Harper and the media could all have pointed out that even with this Toronto is the safest (per capita) city in Canada, and ten times or more safer than its American peers of similar size. In other words, where there are a lot of people, there will be incidents from time to time.
But there’s no preening for votes or chances to spend money when you do that.
So much for Ford’s “respect for taxpayers.” Or the truth.