It’s pretty difficult to argue against the police going on a blitz to inspect homes, as they are now, where people have guns that might not be registered. Of course we want unregistered guns taken off the streets.
But these aren’t the guns people are using to shoot each other in Toronto.
These are guns that seem to be out of harm’s way. Police say they help these gun owners complete the gun registration but they don’t lay any charges for breaking this law — which means, I guess, that these guns aren’t involved in crimes. Indeed, in this process police have never claimed to have discovered any gun involved in any crime.
They paint the people they’re dealing with as generally “law-abiding.” Good. They also say many of these guns are rifles that have been inherited, as when your uncle who was a hunter died, you got his shotgun, which hasn’t been used for 30 years.
These aren’t the guns that are causing problems in Toronto. It would be good if police could start to go after the guns responsible for the 239 shootings in the city so far this year, with 23 dead and 135 injured. Most of the shooters are thought to be young men in gangs.
It would be terrific to start controlling these guns, a third of which are thought to be stolen, the rest smuggled in from the States. But it’s hard to know what to do.
The best ideas about how to keep guns out of the hands of young men comes from former chief justice Roy McMurtry and former legislature speaker Alvin Curling. In a report last year, they said the best thing to do is spend money on social and recreational programs, which will turn around the lives of young kids who might otherwise turn into gang members with guns.
But our governments don’t want to spend money on those kinds of programs. Instead, we’re paying for police to chat to the people who haven’t kept their gun registration up to date.
It’s expensive, but it’s easy to do. Sadly, it’s not addressing the problem.