This year alone they killed people like Justin Brunet, Shammal Ramsay, Levis Taylor and Michael Watson – all in Scarborough.
Gun crimes like these have triggered Mayor David Miller to find a solution.
It was on April 7 when the mayor launched an online petition calling for the federal government to ban private ownership of handguns all across Canada. By a strong 39-3 vote, the motion was adopted at Toronto City Council on April 28.
“I think we need to make a statement that we need to act to make our streets safe,” Miller said in a video statement when the petition was launched. “Are we truly a country that values peace and doesn’t believe in gun violence?
“If we are, then our laws need to make that statement by banning the ownership of handguns in this country.”
The bid to make private ownership of the deadly weapons illegal still has not moved the federal government to act.
The petition still is available online and gun violence continues to wreak havoc in many families.
A Scarborough resident, Jodi McFarlane, belongs to one of those families whose loved one was gunned down.
Her cousin, Levis Taylor, 17, was shot by two unknown assailants on May 28 near Birchmount and Sheppard Aves. at the rear of Agincourt Mall.
“I don’t think [a ban] would have stopped my cousin from being murdered,” McFarlane says. “If people plan on killing you, then they will by any means.”
Miller agreed that banning the weapons will not totally solve the problem of crime.
“It will make a significant impact,” the mayor said in his address to Council before the motion was passed.
“My fear is that a handgun ban will make politicians think they have solved the problem,” says Scott Mills, a Toronto Crime Stoppers Community Youth Officer. “And they will stop putting money and human resources into mentoring programs after school, in the evenings, all night long and all weekend long.”
Paul Ainslie, councillor for Ward 43, was in support of the motion. He says only law enforcement officials should own or possess a gun.
“I think the Mayor is controlling gun violence in Toronto to the best of his ability,” Ainslie says. “I think the federal government doesn’t do enough to control firearms from coming across the border both in motor vehicles and also through the mail.”
While Ainslie was in full support of the motion to ban handguns, he was not too happy with the closure of the Scarborough Rifle Association at the Don Montgomery Community Recreation Centre and the CNRA Handgun Club at Union Station.
“I think all it did was move both clubs out of very tightly controlled facilities and made it easier for firearms to be potentially stolen from their new sites,” Ainslie says.
Since the start of the year, 32 homicides were due to shootings.
There were 24 shooting homicides in 2007 and 32 in 2006.