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Liberals announce handgun ban

Liberal Leader Paul Martin announces ban on handguns, Thursday.
Liberal Leader Paul Martin announced a sweeping ban on handguns Thursday (Dec 8) as he visited a part of Toronto plagued by a recent series of shootings.

Gunfire has been responsible for 50 of the 74 homicides in Toronto this year to date. neighbourhood.

Martin's announcement comes nearly a month after he paid a visit to the Jane-Finch area, promising tougher gun laws and the creation of a $50 million fund to help combat gang violence nationally.

Right now, handguns are currently classified as either restricted or prohibited weapons. Under the current system, people are allowed to possess a restricted firearm for target practice, target shooting competitions, to form part of a collection or, in very rare cases, for employment purposes or to protect your life.

Your letters:

As sad as it makes me feel, it appears at this stage of human development our most �successful� deterrent is currently knowing that �what you do to others may have others do to you�.

I believe it�s logical to say that with a ban on currently legitimate handguns there will be an increase in criminal activity. The criminal will be able to rationalize that there is a higher probability of success in their actions knowing that the law abiding citizen no longer �may� be in possession of a very effective �deterrent�.

Hopefully in the future we shall �hang up the guns� and �hang up the nukes� but right now, police and law-abiding citizens are offering a deterrent that I do not want diminished. Sorry Mr. Martin, another vote bites the dust.

—David Thomas | Fort McMurray, Alberta

With his proposed handgun ban, Martin has stooped to the lowest form of politics: the scapegoating of people who have done no wrong, those who obey Canada's already draconian controls on private firearm ownership.

This scheme is nothing but a cynical attempt to divert public attention from the root causes of violent crime in this country: the regressive social and economic policies of successive Liberal governments.

I find it ominous that the Liberals should be proposing sweeping gun bans in the same campaign in which Liberal "star candidate" Michael Ignatieff makes an appearance, a man who advocates the suspension of fundamental rights, legal and human, in fighting Bush's bogus "war on terror."

Those of you who do not own guns and think little or nothing of this issue may want to ask yourselves what Martin and his Friends really have in mind for Canada.

—Paul Connolly | London

This is a typical North American approach to solving problems. Treat the symptoms not the cause. Banning handguns will do as much to stop violent crimes as banning utensils will combat obesity.

If anyone thinks that banning handguns is going to save lives and make the streets safer for everyone, they're either ignorant (of all the data that says the banning handguns doesn't do a darn thing-eg.U.K) or stupid.

If we really want to make are streets/towns/cities safer we need to attack the root of the problem. Take the money that would be wasted on this ban (and don't think that all the paper work and bureaucracy won't take up a lot of money) and other useless projects, eg. gun registry, and spend more on social programs for youth, single parents, lower income and other people in need.

—Marc Hoogenboom | Edmonton

Eliminating hand guns is just a bandage solution and has not, and will not produce any results. This is just another indication of how pathetically out of touch politicians really are.

Work on the problems of gangs, lax immigration laws, poverty, drugs and then you will have a handle on gun use. If by some flook the government managed to get guns off the streets, the thugs would just use another weapon.

Is this out of touch government going to banbox cutterss, knives, baseball bats, cars? All of these can be lethal when used improperly.

—L. Grant | York Region, Ontario

The Liberal campaign promise to ban all legal handguns may well be a major mistake on the part of the Martin government. I know it just cost my Liberal MP my vote.

I do not own handguns and probably never will, but it's apparent when a political promise is poorly thought out, and should appeal only to those who neither investigate issues or read statistics. The same sort of individual who might rely on Fox for news about world events, perhaps.

A quick visit to the Statistics Canada web site reveals that we should be registering and restricting blunt objects, but have little concern for firearms of any type as a major threat to Canadian society.

Banning legitimately owned private property that can be demonstrated not to pose a threat to others, will do nothing for public safety. It goes without saying that a handgun ban does nothing to address the root problems of gang violence in urban areas.

As for urbanites who claim that target shooting is not justification enough to have a handgun, consider that there are legitimate uses for handguns. Picture the poor trapper or prospector facing a bear. A shotgun is too bulky to carry at work, and bear spray may or may not be effective. Just because handguns (or chainsaws, or 4x4 trucks) may not have a place in most urban lifestyles doesn't mean they don't have uses elsewhere in Canada.

We should not give up another piece of civil liberty to placate the poorly informed through such cheap promises as Mr. Martin's proposed ban on handguns.

Now if only Harper would lighten up on gay marriage, I could vote Conservative!

—Charles McLaren | Yukon Territory

It's not Paul Martin who wants a ban on hand guns, it's me. It's not the Liberals who favour a gun registry, it's me and many other Canadians.

I would love to live in a country where handguns are rare and I fully favour any limitation on their ownership. Yes, I know it won't prevent criminals from obtaining smuggled weapons, but it's a start.

I am proud to live in a country that is intolerant of guns; we set a good example and we live in relative peace and safety. That's more important to me than someone's gun collection. Handguns do not belong in this century. They are archaic and barbaric.

For all the problems that they cause, it is not asking too much to request that those who collect them or play with them simply get a new hobby.

—Babe Hancock | Courtenay, B.C.

Everybody who is complaining about the handgun ban not being the answer is missing the point. Of course it isn't the answer. Name one difficult problem that has a simple, single-approach solution.

Banning handguns will certainly help but it won't solve anything overnight. Does that mean we should give up? No! This is just the first step towards making our communities safer.

In the last election and up until now, I've been telling people to vote against the Conservatives. Finally, I have a reason to vote for the Liberals.

—Matt Kirschnick | Barrie, Ontario

Like many other Canadians, I legally own a handgun, which I shoot recreationally at an approved firing range. As I was listening to Paul Martin's proposed ban on handguns this morning, it occurred to me that he might not understand the already heavy restrictions placed upon handgun ownership in Canada.

So, in order to clarify, I thought I would write and explain the steps I have to go through in order to use my firearm:

1) I go to my gun safe, where I am legally required to store the gun, unloaded.
2) I key in the combination to open the safe.
3) I confirm that the handgun is secured and rendered inoperable by a legally required trigger lock.
4) I transfer the handgun into a lockable carry case.
5) I lock the case, as I am legally required to do.
6) I confirm that I have the registration certificate for the firearm on my person.
7) I confirm that my Possession and Acquisition License for restricted firearms is on my person.
8) I confirm that I have a valid, federally issued, authorization to transport my firearm.
9) I take the locked case to my vehicle, and lock it in the trunk, as I am legally required to do.
10) I drive my vehicle, without stopping, and by the most direct route, to the nearest approved firing range, as I am legally required to do.
11) When I am finished shooting at the range I take the gun directly home,and lock it back in the safe, as I am legally required to do.

Perhaps Mr. Martin would be so kind as to explain something for me. How does further restricting my liberty to own and use a handgun solve the problem of gun violence in the socially disadvantaged Jane and Finch area of Toronto?

—Robert Wood | Lethbridge

Martin's handgun ban is the most non-sensical thing I've seen the Feds do in a very long time. That Ontario's government is supporting this farce is equally galling. Banning handguns has not worked anywhere else it has been tried, and in fact seems to result in a paradoxical rise in crime.

They are targeting the wrong sector of Canadian society. Firearms owners have long been one of the safest, sanest, quietest group of citizens and have been vilified for the actions of a few criminals who use guns to commit crimes.

Gun crime is a big-city problem. Rural residents are feeling increasingly disenfranchised and this is only going to exacerbate those feelings.

I think Martin has made a huge mistake.

—Dave McNeil | Barrie, Ontario

Aside from recreational shooting, handguns only serve one purpose, and that is to kill people. Have we not yet grown up enough to see the difference? Rifles at least can provide subsistence, but who the heck needs a handgun?

Honestly, anyone who thinks that having a handgun for protection is still necessary has been ignoring tomes of work suggesting that it doesn't work. The U.S. is a perfect example. Everyone is armed to the teeth, and they have over 11,000 gun related homicides a year.

So, bravo to the Liberals for proposing to ban this outdated relic of cowboy diplomacy. And to gun hobbyists, seriously... if you can get in that much of a flap about a gun registry, but you can't even be bothered to get upset about the social issues that surround you, you deserve to have those guns taken away from you.

Get a pellet gun, for gods sake, same result, and you'll still feel just as much like a man.

—Simon Rasmussen | Victoria

This banning of handguns is not the answer, nor is a country wide gun registry.

All that misused taxpayer money and look what you have. That money if earmarked for gun control should go to the people that can effectively do something about it- our police forces- not to Liberal lawyers to manage the damn thing, not to consultants, and not to lobbyists- direct it to the police and you'll see results. The registry tells us who didn't do the shooting.

—Douglas Simmons | Calgary

Rather than getting tough with the big city gangs which are routinely killing each other's members with "unregistered, illegal" hand guns, Martin's solution is to take away all the "registered, legal" handguns from law abiding citizens.

—Michael O'Hanlon | Red Deer

Banning hand guns to stop crime is like legislating a ban on darkness to stop night time traffic accidents! Focus the resources on the criminals who are committing these crimes and not the law abiding folks.

Up until this morning my vote was Liberal. Anyone know where I can get a Harper campaign button??

—Steve Keenan | Bellevue, Alberta

Go to Jane and Finch, or the projects in Scarberia, or Moss Park, or any number of other places in Toronto, and it will take you exactly five seconds to figure out why that city and its environs has experienced an increase in violence.

Warehoused people � and especially warehoused adolescents tend not to play nice in the sand box. The answer lies in urban design, recreation facilities, green space, and job creation; all provincial and by extension municipal responsibilities.

Federal politicians have absolutely no business trying to address the problems of urban youth. These blatantly political manoeuvring's only raise unrealistic expectations.

I have tried to observe leadership in Paul Martin, yet� except on the issue of gay marriage � have been profoundly disappointed. Now a trapper in the Canadian North is not going to be able to carry a side arm because of poor social planning in Canada�s cities....brilliant.

—Stephen Thompson | Saint Jean, Quebec

Before Paul Martin decided to ban all handguns, did he bother to see how many gun crimes were committed with legally registered guns?

Why do we need to further punish legitimate gun owners over the actions of criminals with illicitly obtained guns? Why isn't anyone asking the pertinent questions:

1) What percentage of gun crime is committed with legally-registered handguns?
2) Will legitimate handgun collectors be compensated for the thousands of dollars lost when their collections are confiscated?
—Marcus Freeman | Guelph, Ontario

A beyond stupid, typical liberal knee jerk reaction, to the control of criminals. With this ultra dumb statement, Martin has just assured the gun smuggler/criminal's illegal handguns value has just jumped from a few hundred dollars, to thousands of dollars.

Handguns, very much like in the U.K., will be coming across the border in cases. Never before has any election promise given such hope to the common street thug/entrepreneur, to make so much money, in so short a time.

The U.K. is the perfect example of what happens when you ban handguns. The country is literally awash in them, and the U.K. is an Island. Canada sits next to the largest gun owning population on the planet? Are the liberals too stupid to look back at the last 'prohibition' in the 30's. We all know how well that went!

—Bill Cunningham | Innisfil, Ontario

Does this mean the Liberals are finally ready to admit that the Gun Registry is nothing but another in a long list of very expensive boondoggles?

More than $2 billion wasted on registering legally obtained firearms from ordinary citizens while the criminals went about their business, smuggling and stockpiling weapons. Do they honestly think that banning handguns in Canada will have an impact on whether or not criminals continue to use them?

Even for the Liberals, I have to admit this is a stretch. Criminals don�t purchase guns (legally). They do not register firearms. They don�t care about gun laws or any other law for that matter. Do you think that someone who is preparing to murder another individual in cold blood is concerned about whether or not the handgun he�s going to use is legal?

Think about it - Everything from the HRDC boondoggle to the failed Gun Registry to the Advertising Scandal happened under Mr. Martin�s tenure as Finance Minister (#2 in the chain of command). Now, he expects us to believe he�s the right man to run this once-proud nation.

—Paul Denis | Sudbury

Paul Martin's announcement of a planned ban on handguns is perhaps one of his most ridiculous ideas to date. This announcement is nothing but a cheap bid to win votes in Canada's urban centres.

A ban on handguns will simply throw more good money at a bad cause. Clearly, this ban will only affect law-abiding citizens. Stop guns from getting into the hands of criminals, stop illegal guns from coming in from the United States. Stop and think Mr. Martin, why are youth in Toronto and elsewhere shooting each other in record numbers? How will taking my pistol away stop this violence?

This is Paul Martin's own brand of fear-mongering at its best!

—Dan Elves | Brandon, Manitoba

The key line in the Liberal plan to ban handguns is as follows: "Legitimate target shooters who meet requirements would be eligible for an exemption to the handgun ban."

This was taken directly from the Liberal Party'sweb sitee. So basically, pretty much anyone who currently owns a legal handgun in Canada will be able to keep their guns. So what's the point? The Liberals sure do like to waste billions on gun programs, don't they?

—Brian Burke | Bealton | Ontario

Mr. Martin, I thought you were a sensible man, you had my vote for that reason. Now I must withhold my support from you and your Party in the coming election. Thank God you showed your ignorance on this matter prior to Election Day.

Sir, do you know what it takes to qualify as a legitimate sport-shooter or gun-collector? If you are not a gun owner, go through the process as a civilian, as all legal gun-owners have done.

Our RCMP, local police and the administrators involved in this process do, a sometimes slow, but thorough job of checking an individual's back-ground.

They check with neighbours, employers, spouses and personal references to ensure the individual is a responsible, productive and law-abiding member of our society. The process is tedious, time-consuming very invasive and personal, but necessary. Fortunately, most of these Officers and Administrators of the Government DO THEIR JOB WELL.

Now for your remaining time in Office, DO YOURS, please!

—Ruth Gray | Thornhill, Ontario

I don't think anyone would argue with the noble sentiment of wanting to reduce violence, I just don't think that banning handguns is the way to go about it.

We have had controls on handguns in Canada for over 60 years and have the recent experience of the gun registry to demonstrate how ineffective registration is at curbing gun crime. Only those people who already follow the law will comply, the criminal element will continue to commit crimes in violation of laws.

—Sean Pollick

Bravo! Bravo! handguns OUT! Congratulations to Paul Martin and the Liberals for having the guts and determination to outlaw handguns which have been specifically designed to kill human beings.

The fact that gun owners are upset is irrelevant and a very small price to pay for our safety. If the gun owners want to own guns tell them to move south of the border where they can own as many guns as you want.

—Imre Attila Janos Torma | Toronto

If you read the fine print in Mr. Martin's "Ban on Handguns", it states that provinces will be invited to ban handguns.

What then happens when Province A decides to ban handguns outright but their neighbor, Province B, does not? Will it then be illegal to transfer a firearm from Province B to Province A? This then raises the whole question as to whether provincial or federal governments are responsible for firearms legislation.

This whole legislation seems to be a bunch of naive Liberals throwing rocks at a legal bees nest.

—Christopher Repka | Fort McMurray

Many responsible gun owners have always felt that the long term agenda of the Martin/Chretien Liberals was to use the gun registry to facilitate an eventual confiscation of all guns. Today's announcement regarding hand guns only reinforces and legitimizes that view.

If the $1.5 billion spent on the registry had been spent on law enforcement at the borders and in confronting gang crime I wonder what the murder rate in Toronto would be today.

Can someone explain to me how targeting law abiding citizens who have held their noses and complied with a registry that is ineffective will translate in to a reduction in the illegal flow of hand guns?

—Tom Brooke | Campbellford, Ontario

Paul Martin's idea to ban handguns has to be the cheapest, most useless vote-buying trick since Trudeau's 1980 flip-flop on gasoline taxes.

Britain famously banned handguns in 1997. Since then, their handgun crime rate has more than doubled.

Martin is fear-mongering and pandering to the ill-advised. The Liberals do not deserve another win.

—Robert Slaven | Surrey, B.C.

Great, now we're expanding upon a weapons ban that hasn't done a thing to curtail illegal guns since it's inception. The problem is not that people have gun collections and do target shooting, the problem is we have a flow of illegal guns into Canada.

We need more funding to prosecute gun retailers who break the law when it comes to selling guns and interdict cross-border smuggling of firearms. If you want to get gun crime under control, stop the guns from getting in the hands of the criminals, don't ban the ones they aren't even going to be using.

—Robert Rice | Montreal

The Liberal handgun plan is a complete farce. We have had very onerous handgun ownership laws since the 1930's which make it near impossible to own a handgun legally.

I am willing to bet a years salary that 99% of the handguns used in the recent events in Toronto aren't registered as legal or in the current fiasco called the gun registry.

How is an outright ban supposed to make the country safer? It won't. Plain and simple. The answer to the problems in Toronto is longer and stiffer gun crime penalties, not banning handguns for people who use them legally.

—Nicholas Olmstead | Ottawa

A ban on handguns is misguided and will do little to curb gun violence. Current restrictions on handguns are already tight, and those involved in gun violence are ignoring the law, and would no doubt ignore an outright ban.

If a person legally owns a handgun they need a permit and can only transport their handgun on a certain route between their home and gun range. When will the government learn that tightening laws on guns won't deter those who are already breaking the law. What we need is tougher sentencing and more ENFORCEMENT.

—Mark Skoworodko | Calgary

With regards to Paul Martin's announcement this morning of a ban on handguns; would someone please enlighten me as how this will stop the spree of shootings in Toronto as well as violence in other cities.

We have had a handgun registry for 60 years now as well as restrictions in place on handguns. Drugs are illegal in this country yet anybody who wants them can get them; and even with a total ban on handguns if criminals want them they will be able to obtain them.

Like the long gun registry, this will be another money guzzling fiasco who will make criminals out of already law abiding citizens;not to mention it is an attempt to shore up Liberal votes in the big urban centres of Canada.

The sad part of this whole announcement is not only will it make criminals out of already law abiding citizens; but the real criminals who get caught with illegal weapons will continue to be allowed to walk away from our to soft justice system with a mere slap on the wrist.

—Jason Roy | New Glasgow

Paul Martins "Sweeping Ban on Handguns" is not the way to combat gun crimes. One city's problem should not be dealt with in the form of collective punishment. It is a safe bet to say that the weapons used in those crimes were not bought legally in Canada.

A better way to deal with this problem is by funding more police officers in the affected areas, social programs, and increased border patrols and protection. The majority of these weapons come from black market sources in the US. So why not go after these dealers not the law abiding gun owners of Canada.

—Shane Dabrowski | Fort McMurray

An outright ban on handguns? Good-bye Mr. Martin. The Liberals lost my vote once over their miserable attempt at stronger gun controls, and now they've done it again.

Like many Canadians, I do believe that Paul Martin and the Liberals are the best choice to govern our country. Unfortunately, it again sounds as if they are going try and manage guns used in crime by targeting responsible, law abiding citizens who legally own and take responsibility for their firearms. They should be targeting the firearms used in crime that are for the most part, illegally owned and acquired.

—Desmond McQuade | West Lorne

Even under the current laws, the people that use handguns for violent crimes posses them illegally, have obtained them illegally, and the guns were imported into this country illegally.

Once again the honest, law-abiding, responsible citizen who is conforming to current laws and regulations regarding the storage and handling of his handgun will be persecuted due to a Liberal politicians ambition.

Instead of wasting our money creating new laws and a bigger bureaucracy, why not just spend the money enforcing the perfectly good laws we already have?

And by the way, I do not own any handguns, nor do I ever intent to.

—Douglas Oneschuk | Ontario

Paul Martin can make all the announcements he wants but not one handgun death will be prevented by it. Neither will Stephen Harper's tougher sentences do much good.

The reason that neither leader's promises regarding law and order will work is because neither has addressed the primary problem in punishment and rehabilitation, lack of facilities.

If the government had spent the almost two billion dollars on new prisons and staff, Canadians would have seen a reduction in gun violence because judges could then send an offender to prison instead of handing out conditional or suspended or reduced sentence, dictated by the lack of places to put a prisoner.

I believe in forgiveness and rehabilitation but don't forget punishment. People have to pay for their crimes with the loss of "freedom time".

—Carl Burns

So now the Liberals want to confiscate my handgun collection. Destroying my turn of the century (the previous one) handgun collection. Will this really make Toronto safer?

How does confiscating guns that you can not find ammunition for become such a threat? Martin is a little boy with his finger in the dike but fails to see the water flowing over the top. How will this stop guns coming in from the USA? And who said registration does not lead to confiscation?

—Rudy | Winnipg

Now we truly have proof that the Liberal gun registry is a total failure - they are going to the next step: total ban and confiscation.

Only Liberal fools would continue doing the same old things and expect a different result. Only foolish people would vote for Liberals and expect their "policies" to work to reduce the gun crimes in Toronto and other major cities in Canada.

I supported the Liberals at one time, but no more. Their foolish spending to buy my vote and pandering to the "do something, do anything" crowd is the last straw.

—Jim Pook

Paul Martin's proposal to ban all handguns, even those from competition shooters is a false panacea to the shooting crimes in Toronto. Canadians should be made aware that this is simply a cheap electioneering stunt that the Liberals have pulled directly from the pages of Britain's Labour Party in that country's 1997 general election.

In 1997 Britain enacted some of the strictest gun laws in the world. While the number of licensed gun owners in that country has declined sharply, the illegal use of guns in crime has more than doubled since the laws were introduced.

According to U.K. Home Office figures, there were 9,974 crimes involving guns in Britain in 2002, compared to just less than 5,000 reported in 1997. Over the same period the number of homicides committed with guns has increased by 64%.

Handguns, which were the main focus of the ban in Britain, have seen the biggest rise in use by criminals. Home Office figures show that the number of crimes involving handguns has more than doubled since the ban, from 2,636 in 1997 to 5,871 in 2002. Injuries caused by handguns have also increased significantly, from 317 in 1997 to 648 in 2002.

Britain's experience is shocking, and suggests that the vast majority of guns used in crime don't come from licensed gun owners. If this was the case, gun crime in Britain would have fallen to an all time low in proportion to the drop in the number of licensed gun owners. Many people in Britain are now arguing the tighter laws were a costly and misdirected mistake that have done nothing to the check the problem of rising gun crime.

If the federal government wants to make our streets safer it should focus on putting more resources into combating the drug gangs who are perpetrating these crimes rather than focusing on law abiding sport shooters.

—Chris Rumbold | North Vancouver

Leave it to the Liberals to "Jump the Gun"! Paul Martin's announcement that he will put an outright ban on all handguns is another example of his lack of discretion.

Why don't we ban all alcohol to reduce drunk driving? Alcohol is responsible for more deaths than you can shake a stick at not to mention all the families and lives that are torn apart by alcoholism.

If I were a criminal bent on destroying lives I would be rejoicing over a total ban on handguns. Less chance of getting stopped by somebody else's effective ability to defend themselves! You have to target the heart of the criminal if you are going to change anything. Make the penalty not worth the crime! Who in their right mind would want to take a life, if it meant losing his own?

Although Singapore is not perfect, it does not tolerate criminals and it is tough on crime. Where else can a lone woman walk down the streets at night without fear...not in Canada!

—D J Humphreys | Durham

The announcement by the Liberals that there will be a ban on handguns is good politics but little else. Just how is the ban to be enforced? Does anyone seriously believe that someone intent on acquiring a handgun won't be able to get one?

Canada already has strict regulations on the owning of handguns yet criminals continue to obtain and use them. What is needed is the strict enforcement of our current laws and stiffer penalties for illegal ownership and/or criminal use of all firearms, not these useless laws that are seldom meaningfully enforced are more political optics than anything else.

—R. G. Stewart | Ottawa

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