Amid a continuing battle to tackle gun violence in the city, Toronto’s Board of Health has adopted a motion which will attempt to address the issue by making it a health issue.
Among the resolutions adopted, are two which will request city council to ask the provincial and federal governments for help in adopting various bans on guns or ammunition. Just how effective that move would be, since council already passed similar motions months ago, is yet to be determined.
During the recent federal election, the Liberals only committed to banning assault rifles and proposed giving municipalities the authority to ban handguns. But a handgun ban, even on a municipal level, would require provincial approval. Premier Doug Ford has stated his opposition to a handgun ban and said they’re not needed.
Wendy Cukier from the Coalition for Gun Control said a municipal ban would do nothing to stop gun crime in the city.
“Guns move and so, if we banned guns in Toronto, they would just come in from the outskirts,” she said, adding, what is really needed is a more determined approach from the federal government to implement a handgun ban.
Cukier said that while gun bans are effective, she noted they aren’t the only solution.
A handful of speakers spoke out against bans on guns and ammunition, arguing it wouldn’t reduce crime and it unfairly punished law-abiding gun owners.
Alison de Groot from the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association – which represents licensed business owners in sporting arms industry including manufacturers and retailers – addressed the board to speak against supporting a gun ban.
Citing data from the Conference Board of Canada, de Groot said the hunting and sport shooting industry creates billions of dollars of revenue and supports thousands of jobs in Ontario.
She also stated an issue with the proposal of banning the sale of handgun ammunition in Toronto. De Groot said with the exception of unique handguns, almost all ammunition can be used interchangeably between different firearms.
Along with the motions seeking aid to address firearms, the motion also included provisions to address access to mental health supports for those exposed to violence.
Audette Shephard, whose 19-year-old son was murdered in Toronto, said there needs to be a better support system to end an ongoing cycle of violence.
A member of the group, United Mothers Opposing Violence Everywhere, Shephard said there are too many people left to deal with trauma on their own.
“There are many people out there, they’re lost,” she said, adding she is often called upon to help other families of shooting victims and experiences compassion fatigue.
She said what is is needed is real trauma-informed aid.