Politicians’ knee-jerk reaction to Toronto tragedy

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The man who killed two females and injured over a dozen others in a shooting rampage in Toronto’s Greektown neighborhood had been “struggling with psychosis and depression his entire life,” his family said in a statement.

Not so, according to ISIS’s propaganda agency, AMAQ, which said Faisal Hussain “was a soldier of the Islamic State.”

The Toronto Police Service and public safety minister insist no such connection exists, though there was a media report charging that Hussain’s online activity had earned him a chat with the authorities.

Much of what’s being passed off as fact in this case is coming in the form of speculation and ample anonymous sources (or one really chatty anonymous source, perhaps.)

What’s undeniable is that there are a lot of moving parts to this attack — and even more unanswered questions.

Which is why it’s all the more shameful that Toronto mayor John Tory and his council colleagues went after the lowest hanging fruit — handguns.

“There are far too many people carrying around guns in our city and our region who should not have them,” Tory said at a city council meeting Monday morning, just 12 hours after the shooting.  “You’ve heard me ask the question of why anybody would need to buy 10 or 20 guns, which they can lawfully do under the present laws.  And that leads to another question we need to discuss: ‘Why does anyone in this city need to have a gun at all?’”

The next day, all but four councillors voted to ban the sale of handguns and handgun ammunition from Toronto, a particularly laughable waste of time as municipal councils have no jurisdiction in that area.  All they really did was call on the federal and provincial governments to do the real work.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said more generally the federal government would entertain any proposal on a nationwide handgun ban.

None of these lawmakers seemed to care about the possibility that Hussain’s handgun was purchased illegally, which it almost certainly was.

The motion, and potential federal government action would have done nothing to prevent the tragedy, yet these politicians are content to push their anti-gun agenda forward anyway.

According to Global News, Hussain had been arrested twice under Ontario’s mental health act.  Regardless of any possible terror connection, police involvement compounded with his family’s admitted knowledge of severe mental health issues mean there’s no way he could legally acquire a handgun.

It’s yet another reminder of how kneejerk reactions to horrific crimes impact only the law-abiding.  The gun control advocates pushing these ‘solutions’ know nothing about the current laws and how strict — and effective —Canada’s licensing regulations really are.

Tory’s claim of untold numbers of people “carrying around guns” proves this.

Of the two million Canadians with Possession and Acquisition Licenses (PALs), only a few thousand (the exact number is not publicly available) have the carry permit known as an Authorizations to Carry.  In almost all of these cases, it’s a requirement for employment, such as for armoured car guards and those in the wilderness.

If anyone is walking around the streets of Toronto with a gun, they’ve already shown a disregard for the law, which doesn’t bode well for them being hindered by the City of Toronto’s attempt to ban legal gun sales.

The people who suffer are those, like myself, with an RPAL, the restricted version of the PAL.  To get one, would-be gun owners go through a number of reasonable hurdles: passing the firearms safety courses, clearing background and reference checks, and approval by the Chief Firearms Officer.  The system is designed to weed out those at risk of harming themselves or others, including those with severe mental health concerns.

License applicants also need to provide a reason for owning restricted guns — such as collecting or target shooting — to the government.  Tory is correct that there’s no limit on quantity, but why should there be after someone has already established themselves as a safe and responsible gun owner?

And for those who think it’s open season after you get your license, note that every licensed gun owner is subjected to daily police checks, and added scrutiny when buying a restricted firearm.

Figuring out how Hussain got his gun and why he did what he did is necessary, but this investigation has nothing to do with the country’s existing gun laws.  Shame on the politicians who say otherwise.

Photo Credit: Toronto Star

Andrew Lawton is a fellow at the True North Initiative and a Loonie Politics columnist.

More from Andrew Lawton     @andrewlawton

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