Ban would miss target

Toronto city councillors are seeking a federal ban on handguns following the fatal shooting of 42-year-old John O’Keefe on Yonge Street early Saturday morning. O’Keefe was on his way home shortly after 1 a.m. when he was struck by a stray bullet allegedly intended for a bouncer at the Brass Rail Tavern. The bouncer had asked the gunman and his friend to leave shortly before one of them opened fire outside the tavern.

Although the handgun was legally registered, it has sparked national debate on whether the weapons should be outlawed. On Monday, Toronto city councillor Michael Walker motioned for the prohibition of handguns and received support from Toronto mayor David Miller.

Gun violence isn’t a new issue in Toronto, nor is the concern of legalized firearms new to the national agenda. Just over a year ago, 15-year-old Jane Creba was shot and killed only blocks from where O’Keefe was shot—frightening given this is on Toronto’s busiest street.

Dozens of homicides in Toronto each year have often generated debate as to whether tighter gun control is necessary, but this rhetoric has rarely materialized into a substantial plan of action.

Eliminating handguns is a good but implausible idea.

Should the proposal to ban the weapons pass, it’s impossible to ensure the handguns would disappear from the homes of the thousands of Canadians who have them legally registered. Contraband guns would find their way into the country.

Walker’s proposal to push for a ban is one of many steps necessary to reduce gun violence. If the motion is to be taken as more than a cosmetic solution, it’s vital for ongoing projects to confront the roots of the violence itself, whether it be poverty or systemic discrimination. Similarly, the issue needs to stay visible in the news rather than fade from headlines as interest and political sympathy begin to wane.

The federal government needs to come through on its tough-on-crime stance by decreasing the number of weapons—registered or not—on the street. The O’Keefe incident and similar tragedies will only be anomalies if such events stop happening.

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