Everyone is alarmed about growing incidents of gun violence in this country. Let’s not quibble over appropriate sentences for those caught. Make it stiff no matter the circumstances.
Although the federal government has received a fair bit of criticism over adopting minimum mandatory sentences, in the case of gunplay and illegal weapons, throwing the book at those caught is justified.
The latest instance, a shootout in Toronto Monday night – at a neighbourhood gathering, with a number of innocent casualties, including two dead – has sparked a political salvo.
In response to the tragedy, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews came down hard on recent provincial court rulings in Ontario. Recently a judge said a crack dealer who offered to sell an undercover police officer a non-existent gun should not have to face the mandatory minimum sentence of three years for gun trafficking, describing it as disproportionate.
In another case in the past year, an Ontario judge said three years’ prison was too much for a first-time offender convicted of possessing a loaded gun. Such a sentence would be “unconstitutional.”
Toews upholds the need to come down hard on such activity – to get such lawbreakers off the street and also to send a strong message of deterrence.
This country in recent years has undergone extended debate about the long-gun registry. Those opposed to it have argued that while in place it unfairly targeted law-abiding rifle owners. It didn’t do anything to tackle the criminals sporting illegally obtained handguns.
That issue still divides some. But surely we can all agree – except the criminals – that pistols in the hands of gang members are a menace. Given the potential to endanger the public when people flirt with illegal guns, we can’t have courts giving convicted people breaks.
We don’t want thugs packing heat, period. Doing so should warrant a hefty sentence. Does it make sense to wait until they kill someone to come down hard?