Toronto police off target

Toronto police off target

Toronto’s Safe City campaign should be targeting criminals

Despite clear evidence that targeting law-abiding gun owners for registration or licensing paperwork violations does nothing to stem violent crime, Toronto police are currently going door to door looking for lapsed firearms license holders, in a self-professed bid to make their city safer. The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (O.F.A.H.), the largest nonprofit conservation based angling and hunting organization in Ontario, condemns this ‘make work’ project as yet another example of law enforcement aiming at the wrong target in an attempt to address the very real problem of violent gun crime.

“It is more than a little ironic that Toronto police are carrying out this activity under the guise of their ‘Safe City Project.’ Instead of working to stem the tide of illegal firearms that are smuggled into Canada and sold on the streets of Toronto and other major urban centres, police are knocking on the doors of law-abiding citizens, in the hopes of finding a legally owned firearm with a lapsed registration,” said Greg Farrant, O.F.A.H. Manager of Government Relations & Communications. “In the process, they are claiming to have tracked down 400 firearms that in their words ‘could have fallen into the hands of criminals.’ Unless they have developed the ability to predict the future, this leap in logic in truly breathtaking. To suggest that a lapse in paperwork is one step removed from the firearm ending up on the streets defies all logic. There are far more productive ways to spend enforcement dollars, such as tracking those individuals who are prohibited from owning firearms, and working with all levels of government to halt the flow of illegal firearms coming into Canada, firearms that are being used to commit crimes in our communities.”

In 1995, the amended federal Firearms Act made it mandatory for every long gun (shotgun or rifle) in the country to be registered. Despite assurances that public safety would be well served by the creation of the $2 billion dollar ‘investment‘ in the long gun registry, the Auditor General of Canada stated in her reports to Parliament in 2002 and 2006, that the department had not been able to demonstrate that the system had enhanced the public safety or had saved lives.

“The Canadian Firearms Centre (C.F.C.) is responsible for notifying firearms owners about renewal of their licenses, but despite their efforts to remain in compliance, thousands of legal, law-abiding firearms owners have failed to receive these notifications or have had their paperwork disappear into some bureaucratic black hole. Given the inherent flaws in the system, well publicized computer failures, repeated violations of privacy, and massive cost overruns, the Justice department has admitted that the program has become overly complex, costly to deliver and difficult for firearms owners to comply. All Canadians, not just hunters, sport shooters and farmers, should be alarmed by Canada’s colossal failure to protect us from violent offenders. This latest futile campaign in Toronto has firearms owners across the country shaking their heads in frustration,” added Farrant.

If found to be in non-compliance with the registration and licensing requirements, firearms owners are provided with an opportunity to come into compliance, but the firearms are removed from their possession until the process is complete. The targeting of legal firearms owners and claims that such actions are resulting in a reduced threat to public safety lacks credibility, and diverts attention away from the fact that the registration system is badly flawed, does nothing to prevent criminals from obtaining illegal firearms and is nothing more than a glorified public relations exercise, which ignores the real problem and threat to the public.

With over 100,000 members, subscribers and supporters, and 660 member clubs, the O.F.A.H. is the largest nonprofit, charitable, fishing, hunting and conservation-based organization in Ontario, and the voice of anglers and hunters. For more information, visit www.ofah.org.