TORONTO – Driving around with an illegal gun? Say goodbye to your car.
That’s the law a Liberal backbencher wants to put on the books.
Toronto MPP Mike Colle’s private members’ bill would give cops the power to impound a car and suspend the driver’s licence if an unlawful handgun is found in their vehicle.
He said it’s easy to drive around with the dangerous weapons because police are helpless to do anything about it.
“Right now the federal laws are a joke,” he said Wednesday before introducing the bill.
“They find someone with a gun in their car in their car, they say, ‘Well, it’s not my car, it’s my uncle Lewie’s car.’ They always walk.”
Colle said he hopes his proposed law would act as a deterrent, saying it’s almost impossible for police to get a conviction under the Criminal Code for anyone found to have an unlawful handgun in their vehicle.
It’s not about law-abiding gun owners, but criminals who are riding around with loaded guns knowing there’s not much police can do about it, said the former cabinet minister.
A case in point is the fatal shooting of Toronto teacher Abshir Hassan, 31, who was gunned down along with two other people two weeks ago while attending a birthday party, Colle said.
He said he heard of a limo that was pulled over with six guns in the car, but the driver walked. There was another case years ago involving a grenade launcher.
“They got stopped by the cops, and they got off with a loaded grenade launcher in the vehicle,” Colle said. “This is how ludicrous these laws are with guns in cars.”
Ottawa may have jurisdiction over gun ownership, but the province is in charge of road safety and vehicle licensing, he said.
But a private members’ bill rarely becomes law unless the government backs it.
Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Yasir Naqvi wouldn’t say whether the majority Liberal government will throw its weight behind the proposed legislation.
“We need to make sure that these illegal, dangerous weapons should not be in use in our communities,” he said.
“And that’s why the federal government needs to take far more stronger action to make sure that weapons like handguns are banned, that they are not easily accessible.”
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said she supports a ban on handguns, but said she wants to read Colle’s bill before deciding whether to support it.
Colle introduced the bill in May, but it was automatically scrapped when the June 12 snap election was called.
It said police could suspend a driver’s licence and impound the vehicle for a week if they believe “on reasonable and probable grounds” that the driver is travelling with an illegal handgun.
The bill proposed fines between $2,000 to $10,000 and a jail sentence of no more than six months. A driver convicted of driving with an illegal handgun would also have their licence suspended for a year with the first conviction, five years with a second conviction and an indefinite suspension with a third conviction.
© The Canadian Press, 2014