How: Solving the gun crime problem

Mayor David Miller acknowledges gun offences are the only major crime offences that have not been reduced over the past five years, but he says there is a plan.

It’s three main steps involve hiring more police officers, more funding for youth programs and employment, with a main focus on getting a national ban on handguns.

“Handguns are manufactured to kill people,” Miller told the Observer in an exclusive telephone interview last week.

“That’s what they’re manufactured for, nothing else. It’s time to take them out of the possession of people.”

But asked about the city’s plans to deal with guns already in Toronto, Miller side-stepped the issue, bringing the focus back to keeping guns out.

“Well, illegal guns start legally. They either start as legal Canadian guns or they start as legal American guns,” he said. “The measures I’m talking about will end the flow of illegal guns because they all start legally.”

Based on 2004 data from the Toronto Police Service, about half the handguns used in Toronto crimes are from the U.S., where weak gun laws mean firearms are easily obtained.

Miller said the federal government needs to pay as much attention to border security as it does to airport security.

“If we can afford billions at airports, we can afford billions to be invested in ways to combat the river of guns that flows north from the U.S,” he said.

The Mayor also said strong enforcement of gun laws will keep criminals from using firearms.

“I think we need to send the message to those who would use guns that if you get caught, you’re going to jail.”

Const. Gary Gomez of 42 Division agrees with Mayor David Miller’s methods of gun crime reduction, such as stopping gun smuggling from the U.S.
Courtesy of Const. Gary Gomez.

Const. Gary Gomez, of 42 Division, agreed stronger border controls and tough enforcement of gun laws are one of the most effective ways to stop gun crime.

“I think the best way is just to stop the guns from coming in and stop people from getting guns,” Gomez said. “Making it such a hard and such a difficult situation that if someone does end up with a handgun, that they’ll never want to do it again.”

A national handgun ban would also be useful, he said.

Roughly one third of guns used in Toronto’s crimes are stolen from registered owners. Banning everyone from owning handguns would keep them off the market for criminals, the crime prevention officer said.

“If [registered gun owners] store their gun improperly and it gets stolen, that gun is on the street,” Gomez said. “If they [handguns] were all gone, there’d be no way to get them.”

As far as the issue of more support for young people, the city has helped create thousands of jobs for youth through special funding, Miller said.

“Without investing in young people and giving them hope and opportunity in programs, you’re not going to be nearly as successful,” the Mayor believes.

In 42 Division, police visit elementary schools to teach kids to make the right choices from an early age, Gomez said. Education, providing good role models and making sure kids have realistic goals also keep youth away from gun crime, he added.

“I think a lot of police forces are going that route because they realize that once a kid gets to a certain age, it’s very hard to influence them in a positive light.”

About this article

By: Rachel Muenz
Posted: Dec 13 2008 11:28 pm
Filed under: News

16 Comments on "How: Solving the gun crime problem"

  1. i remember when i first came to Toronto in many many years ago, it
    was such a wonderful place. i was so impressed by the friendly
    neighborhood and the peaceful environment.
    but now, look at all the gum crimes surrounding us, it happen almost
    every single week and the police can do NOTHING about it…people
    just walking around the city and shoot whoever/whenever/wherever they
    want…gum crime is happening in shopping mall, public transit, on
    the street…how can this happen in our city?!
    i am just wondering why police can never catch any of these criminals?
    they can’t prevent the crime, they can’t stop the crime, and after
    the crime happens, they can do NOTHING except some useless
    investigation. what a disgrace!
    can anyone help us?

  2. Barry Glasgow | December 18, 2008 at 12:00 pm |

    Legal gun ownership has existed here in Canada for hundreds of years and, up until 1978, law-abiding citizens could even own machine guns.
    Both they and handguns had been restricted by police-verified registration since 1934.

    Even with this relatively “lax” gun control regime, Toronto could not lay claim to the level of gun violence it now sees.

    In 1995, the federal Liberal governement launched a gun control program that has cost taxpayers over $2 billion and put enormous restrictions on legal gun owners.

    Yet the problem in Toronto only got worse.

    Even though more than 85% of the handguns used in Toronto shootings are smuggled in from the U.S., the same folks who claimed that total gun registration was the answer are now telling us that confiscating legally owned handguns will help.

    Since those idylic days in the 60’s and 70’s even U.S. laws have become more restrictive, so what really changed?

    When Mayor Miller and his supporters can answer that, they will have taken a real step toward actually solving the problem.

  3. M.J. Ackermann, MD | December 17, 2008 at 5:23 pm |

    Handgun bans have never worked at any time in history anywhere in the world. Look at Australia, Great Britain, Jamaica, Ireland, and many others for examples of how monumental symbolic laws fail to achieve meaningful change.

    Engaging in cultural genocide against the lawful firearms owners of Canada and kicking Olympic competitors like Aviana Chow out of Toronto will do nothing to curb violent crime that is entirely the result of substance prohibition aka “The War on Drugs”. Apparently we have learned nothing from the failure of alcohol prohibition seventy years ago.

    It is ironic. A substance ban leads to huge crime which leads to further bans. Guess what will happen, folks: More crime. It is inevitable. Ban something and the price climbs making criminal enterprise an attractive way to fill the marketing niche created by the ban.

    As a final point, if handguns are solely designed to kill as Miller et al would have us believe, if they radiate some kind of talisman-like aura of evil, then why on earth do we allow police to carry them?

    After all the police are simply citizens whom have undergone a selection and training process. They are high school grads with a six month cop course that includes twenty hours of defensive firearms training, most of it classroom based. They re-qualify with one hour of range time once or twice annually that involves being able to hit a human sized target from contact to seven meters range. It isn’t rocket science.

    Compared to this, people like me have taken several courses in safety and coaching of shooters, spend thousands of hours annually involved in our sport including hundreds of hours on the range.

    Of course the violent criminals don’t do any of this, nor do they register their guns or turn them in when they are banned. They don’t respect gun free zones, but rather enjoy them as they are a government guarantee of a killing field of helpless victims.

    Handguns are designed to provide last-ditch personal defense against violent assault. Certainly they can be abuse by the ignorant and the malicious, but that in no way invalidates their purpose. We never hear about the defensive uses that save life, and these outweigh the abuses by many times. Just one example is the Appalachian School of Law, near Virginia Tech, where two students used their legally owned handguns to stop and arrest a crazed madman after he had shot only one person. Compare this to Virginia Tech, where the madman wandered unopposed through the “Gun Free Zone” killing with impunity.

    It is fact that once a mass killer comes under effective return fire he will suicide. Lawfully armed staff and students make schools safer by providing that return fire immediately. T=Rather than helplessly wait for someone else to bring a gun to their defense, lawful citizens are fully capable of providing this life-saving function themselves. Just look to Israel for evidence. Palestinian terrorists stopped shooting up their schools once the staff were armed.

    So if the cops can do it so can you. Just undergo the same background security check and take the same defensive handgun training as the police. The you should be allowed to defend yourself effectively using the single best tool for the job, the concealed carry handgun.

    What, you say this will make society more dangerous and blood will run in the streets? Why don’t the cops rampage then because this is the same process they receive? And at any rate this hasn’t happened in any of the Concealed Carry states and in fact Utah’s Department of Justice reports that their civilian concealed carriers are less involved in criminality than their police.

    Is the training too hard for us to succeed at? How then can the cops when they are simply some of us who have undergone it? And no, you won’t go looking for a fight any more than having a fire extinguishe makes you look to start a house fire.

    Bans don’t work. Symbolic gestures don’t work. Disarming victims of violence doesn’t work. Period.

    Of course the culture of victimhood and its mouthpiece organizations like Cukier’s Coalition for Gun Control require an ongoing supply of fresh victims or they would be out of business. That is why the concept of a confidently trained and defensively armed woman scares the bejeezus out of them.

    M.J. Ackermann, MD (Mike)
    Rural Family Physician,
    Box 13, 120 Cameron Rd.
    Sherbrooke, NS
    Canada B0J 3C0

    [email protected]

    “Hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst”.

  4. D. E. Mahoney, Ottawa | December 17, 2008 at 9:03 am |

    I would suggest the students who wrote this article look up the definition of “investigative journalism”. This means to ask tough questions, query multiple sources of information, obtain facts, and discover the truth. This would be far more enlightening that reprinting one of Mayor Miller’s press releases. Miller is so hoplophobic, and so blind to what is actaully happening in his city, he can do nothing more than repeat “ban handguns ban handguns ban handguns” over and over again. The Chief and his bureaucrats aren’t much better.

    Now, I’m going to give you some suggestions for your “investigative” piece I hope you will follow up on.

    1. Check StatsCan. They have some recently released hard stats on guns and crime, including (I believe) numbers of legal vs illegal guns used in crime.
    2. Ask the Chief where he gets the “1/3” number from. Get the hard numbers. What is his source of information? What are classified as crime guns? Does this include guns recovered from things like domestic disputes, where the gun was not actually used in any way shape or form?
    3. Ask him this question: “If 2/3 of crime guns have been illegally imported, and drugs are still readily purchased despite a prohibition, and gun and drugs often come in with the same shipments, how is confiscating the legally owned property of law abiding individuals going to reduce the number of crime guns in circulation? Doesn’t it simply mean that the smugglers with throw a couple more Glocks in with the next shipment of crack?”
    4. What percentage of individuals arrested for violent crimes, including gun crimes, are on bail, probation, or parole at the time of the incident?
    5. If handguns are only meant to kill, and there are half a million of them legally owned in Canada, why is the murder rate so low? Are they all defective?
    6. If handguns are only meant to kill, why on earth do our police constables carry them??!!?
    7. Ask the Chief about a recent initiative conducted by the Ontario Chief Firearms Officer. There was a concern that elderly gun collectors were not storing their firearms properly. So, the CFO began home inspections. Every single collector inspected not only met but exceeded the storage regulations laid out in the Firearms Act. The inspections were stopped, acknowedging they were a waste of time.
    8. Ask him why someone who has their locked home broken into by criminals and their secured property stolen, is somehow responsible for the theft? Shouldn’t the police be preventing such crimes?
    9. If a car is stolen, used in a robbery, and during the getaway, the robbers hit and kill a pedestrian, is the car’s owner to blame?
    10. How much does the Mayor believe it would cost the federal government to compensate legal handgun owners for the purchase or book value of their legally owned handguns and allied equipment (ie reloading tools) should they be confiscated? Could this money be put to better use in another crime prevention initiative? ie education, job training, after-school programs, judges/courtrooms/prisons?

  5. “Based on 2004 data from the Toronto Police Service, about half the handguns used in Toronto crimes are from the U.S., where weak gun laws mean firearms are easily obtained.”

    Funny… Miller says that only 30% are from Canada… where as the TPS indicates that only 4-10% were registered Canadian firearms… so what is it? 50% (as you claim), 30% (as Miller claims), or 4-10% if you actually read the TPS reports yourself?

  6. First of all, Toronto has a gun CRIME problem, not a gun problem.

    Second of all, in virtually every interview, David Miller lies about the source of crime guns, flat out lies.

    According to Metro Police’s own statistics, less than 10% of firearms used to commit a crime were ever legally registered in Canada, so he is flat out lying every time he says its half, its nowhere near have. In an average year, that’s 11 guns.

    Thirdly, it’s policies Miller supported which are driving thefts of guns. Thanks to a law he supported, any thief can now walk into a Canadian tire, steal the unguarded and unlocked book showing the names and addresses of everyone who has purchased ammunition, and what calibre it was for easy reference. Yes, you should have to show ID, but that information should not be recorded, its a security risk.

    Fourthly, while it is controversial, US laws promoting civillian handgun ownership have led to less serious crimes in places where they are in force, while cities like Chicago and Washington where guns are ‘banned’ have some of the worst gun crime rates in the world. It is ridiculous to think that banning handguns will solve the problem of gun crime.

    To solve the problem, start with tougher sentences for those who use them in a crime. Then couple that with good diversionary programs and try and keep the kids from gangs and drugs. Oh, and the other thing, that worked in NY City was increased enforcement of petty crimes.

    And, no, for the record I do not own any handguns.

  7. “Handguns are manufactured to kill people,”… that is why every police officers has one strap to his belt, right?

    Enough with the sensationalism, handguns like anything else, is nothing more then a tool.

  8. Allowing criminal misuse and abuse dictate the conduct of lawful citizens, this is Miller’s big plan? Miller is playing populist politics, nothing more nothing less. It doesn’t matter to him if handgun bans don’t work, are unjust, and unnecessary. As long as he can keep his target audience misinformed, and fearful of firearms. As long as he keeps them believing that legitimate firearms ownership is the key force causing all the violence in his city, he is able to use his attack on firearms owners to garner support from the larger populous of non firearms owners. He purposely creates a tyranny of the majority situation for his own political gain.
    His proposed ban is also a great red herring. Addressing crime and violence today is hard, lock em up and you risk offending those who champion light sentencing. Pointing the finger at gangs could land him in trouble with minorities. Get tough on young offenders, he would seem callous. Address socio-economic issues, nah too expensive. Oh but look over there, a licensed, registered, trained, and non violent firearms owner, the holly grail of scape goats. Miller had better remain the loudest voice least his flock overhear creditable and objective whisperings and start researching and checking facts on their own.

  9. Banning handguns will NOT prevent crime, education of proper USE will. Increasing penalties for violators, jail time, etc. Our justice system is so weak that, repeat offenders are just that, little jail time, small fines. If anything needs to be done, its to get the government to revamp the legal system so its harder on criminals, instead punishing LEGAL/LAW ABIDING firearms owners. We need to stop following these hidden Liberal agendas

  10. I see that “Journalism” programs continue to teach the primary rule. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story. Although the quotations provided by politicians and their employees (Police are City of Toronto employees) are very accurate, they are far from the real truth about what is really going on.

    Why use 2004 data from the police when 2007 data is available on the Toronto Police Services website? It clearly shows that LEGAL handguns are NOT THE PROBLEM. Miller and the police KNOW THE FACTS, yet continue to LIE. Unfortunately the Toronto Police have become mouthpieces for the so-called Mayor in promoting the mayor’s agenda and his irrational fear of guns.

    The MYTH of disarming an entire county to “make it safer” is just that, a myth. It only makes it safer for CRIMINALS who, by definition, don’t follow the laws anyway.

    All budding reporters (articles such as this one don’t deserve the distinction of being called a Journalist) should do their research, otherwise they only become fit to file stories with the likes of the National Inquirer or Toronto Star.

    For REAL, researched and credited facts about firearms, see the publication at and be enlightened. “Gun Control” has failed to reduce crime in EVERY country it has been implemented. Gun control is the only government program where its repeated utter failure only demands more of the same.

  11. Ben Valentine | December 14, 2008 at 1:03 pm |

    I guess research is not a requirement for journalism these days. Just uneducated opinions.
    Did you ask the fine officer what they would use instead of a handgun on their duty belt? I suppose he has not thought about officer safety and the threat of someone going after their personal issued handgun.
    Do the research on what is required to legaly own, store and use a firearm in Canada. Look at the increase in Border checks and confiscations on both sides. If you really want a story worth reading, investigate Mayor Miller’s actions and inactions. Put all the pieces together and let the truth out! Or is the printed truth, not part of journalism these days?

  12. What a mayor…. He can’t balance the books, and I doubt he even knows what a real gun looks like. For his highness’s education lets review. Handguns were designed for self defense, that’s why our Police men and women carry them. Machine guns were designed to for one purpose – to kill people, and that’s why they are used by the military. By the way, Mr. Miller good job closing those scary gun ranges in Toronto. Those Olympic shooters have been a real menace over the years, that should put a real dent in gang violence.

  13. The problem with “gun crime” is that the Powers That Be spend too much time, enegry and money on the “gun” part, and not nearly enough on the “crime” part. All such so-called “gun control” laws are targeted at and affect only the law-abiding gun-owning citizen, not those who criminally misuse firearms.

    Mayor Miller’s and the anti-gun lobby’s factoid of “one third” of guns are stolen from legal gun owners has been shown to be patently untrue – and they have been told this time and time again. Anaylses of various “crime gun” reports have shown that from as little as 3% to at most 16% of “crime guns” can definitively be proven to have been stolen from a Canadian gun owner. The rest is rank speculation and wishful thinking.

    And the claim that “all illegal guns started out as legal guns” is sophomoric, at best. You could say that all criminals started out as law abiding citizens, so maybe we should lock everybody up, just in case.

    For a journalism student, you should have sought out differing opinions to give “balance” to your article.

  14. I question Mayor millers crusade to ban handguns from legal owners.
    First, there has never been ANY proof that one-third of these guns were stolen from legal owners. The 2004 document provided by TPS identified 18% not 30% that could be traced.
    Secondly, TPS is recovering roughly six illegal guns per day and only one was used in a crime and positively identified as being legally owned.
    And what does is matter? In the black market, if one source closes, another opens to fill the demand. So taking this property from legal owners can NOT have any effect on gun crime.
    This has been proven in the UK where gun crime has increased in the past ten years since they banned handguns.
    Finally, handguns are NOT designed to kill. They are for self protection. That is their main purpose. That’s why police, armoured car guards, border guards, conservation officers and Mayor Miller’s body-guards have them.
    There will come a time in this country when decent hard working Canadians will demand to be allowed to carry a handgun for self defence.
    Look at the recent stabbings in Oshawa that killed a mother, father and a toddler. Where is their right to protect themselves?
    Look at the woman in Brampton who called 911 while being beaten to death. Why is she not allowed to live?

    Pat Proulx
    Canadian Association for Self Defence
    Almonte, Ontario

  15. Stormbringer | December 14, 2008 at 9:13 am |

    What unmitigated HOGWASH….

    Until so called mayor ler and his cronies face the REAL issues of a societal bent that are the true root of the crime rates in Toronto he is just blowing smoke.

    The ONLY way to address so called “gun crime” is to attack the source of the problem. That problem is not legally owned Canadian guns. Heck it is not really even those guns (the vast majority) that are smuggled into Canada from the United States.
    The REAL issue is the DEMAND for these guns. ITS THE CRIMINALS STUPID! Until you get rid of the demand there will ALWAYS be a source. One need only look at drug and cigarette smuggling for evidence of our inablitiy to tackle cutting of sources.

    But of course so called mayor miller is not enough of a leader to address these problems so we are doomed to failure.

  16. It is truly unfortunate when reporters parrot the mayor but don’t check the facts. In the TPS 2007 “ANNUAL STATISTICAL REPORT” ( it is reported that 10 handguns were stolen and 8 recovered in the city. Considering that there were 2603 “Firearms Seizures” during the same time, how is it that 2 additional handguns are the cause of most “gun crime”?
    As to His Blondness’ assertion â��Handguns are manufactured to kill people,â�� I guess that as shooting is an Olympic sport, all Olympic shooters must be murderers!

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