Mayors and police chiefs from the Greater Toronto Area are calling for additional action to be taken to stop illegal guns from coming into Canada from the United States.
It was one of three conclusions made following a regional meeting on gun violence hosted at Toronto City Hall Tuesday morning which saw officials from Mississauga, Brampton, Pickering and Markham in attendance.
“Our police services have been clear that the vast majority of guns being seized are illegal guns from the U.S.,” the officials said in a joint statement after the meeting.
“We acknowledge that the Government of Canada has made investments in border security in the past but we must urge the government to take further action.”
Officials called for “additional cooperation” between local police services and the Canadian Border Services Agency.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said the meeting “very briefly” touched on possible handgun bans, which has been a controversial topic in recent months.
“When it was presented to us that 80 per cent of the guns are coming across the border illegally, we decided to focus ourselves on the thing that represented the biggest single share of the problem,” Tory said.
The mayors, regional leaders, and police chiefs also called for changes to the legal system “so there are tougher bail laws and sentencing for repeat offenders who are caught engaging in gun violence and trafficking illegal guns.”
Investments in fighting the “roots of violence” were also discussed at the meeting.
Municipal officials called on the provincial and federal governments to provide additional funding for programs that focus on issues affecting at-risk young people.
Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones and Joel Lightbound, parliamentary secretary to Canada’s minister of public safety, attended Tuesday’s meeting.
According to the Toronto Police Service Public Safety Data Portal, there were 290 people either killed or injured by shootings in the city in 2019, up nearly 23 per cent from 2018.
The gun violence, however, has not been limited to Toronto. Shootings in municipalities around Toronto have prompted calls from officials in those areas for more resources to be provided to fight gun violence.