Ontario gun laws make mass shootings less likely: OPP commish
OPP Commissioner Chris Lewis. (STAN BEHAL/Toronto Sun files)
Gun laws in this province make mass shootings such as what happened in Connecticut less likely, says OPP Commissioner Chris Lewis.
All the same, he’s worried by rumblings from Ottawa about an easing of regulations surrounding the ban on prohibited weapons such as assault weapons.
A firearms advisory committee appointed by federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews came up with the recommendations recently. They were quickly slapped down by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, but Lewis is worried by the discussion.
“There’s been some talk about loosening the laws on some long-guns,” he told me in a telephone interview Tuesday.
“I still can’t believe you don’t have to register a 30.06 rifle and you have to register your trailer that you take garbage to the dump with,” he said.
“If you have a fishing shack on Lake Simcoe you have to get a licence for it but your 30.06 you don’t.
“Where’s the rationale behind this?” he asked.
Still, Canadian gun laws make mass shootings less likely.
“Even without the long-gun registry — which I am sorry to see go — we still have better controls on the purchasing of firearms than the U.S.,” he said.
He doesn’t buy the gun lobby argument that arming everyone will cut down on gun crimes.
“There are women walking in the Walmart with baby carriages wearing .45s on their hips in the U.S.” he said.
“And they wonder why their crime is so crazy.”
Lewis said there are more murders in Washington, D.C., which has a population of less than one million, than there are in Toronto.
“They have ten times the murders that Toronto has even though we’ve got three million people,” he said.
While this country has had its problems with gun violence, it’s nowhere near the levels it’s at in the U.S., he said.
“We’re doing something right, as is Ireland, the U.K. and other jurisdictions.”
Lewis said all major police forces put in place new protocols for dealing with gun violence in schools after the 2006 Pennsylvania Amish school shooting.
“We have better weapons, better vests and better training for officers so they don’t stand around and wait for a SWAT team,” Lewis said.
“They can proactively go into the school and go straight to the threat and deal with it.”
The bottom line, says Lewis, is that if there’s a crazed gunman determined to shoot-up a school, there’s precious little anyone can do to stop them.
“If there’s someone out there who’s in that mental state and has access to a firearm, legally or illegally, it’s going to be a scary situation, but I think we’re better prepared up here.”
And while we in Canada like to be smug and superior when we look at the U.S., the fact is, we’ve had our share of shootings and we can’t be complacent.
I’m not talking about the long-gun a farmer keeps in the barn.
Lewis points out there is no reason for anyone apart from military and cops to have assault weapons.
You don’t use them to shoot bears.
Fair enough, Stephen Harper soundly rejected the suggestions from Toews’ firearms advisory group.
The fact they were made at all shows some people disagree.
How many tragedies will it take for the message to get through: Assault weapons have no place in attics and basements where any disturbed nutbar can get his hands on them.
The price is too high — and too many innocents have paid it already.
Are you worried about mass shootings happening in Canada?
Yes, there are evil people anywhere
No, it's highly unlikely