While gun violence–and violence in general–is a difficult issue to understand and address, there’s no denying that people in Toronto and the GTA aren’t more concerned about firearms after an unusually deadly year.
After a horrific mass shooting claimed the lives of an 18-year-old woman and a 10-year-old girl in Toronto’s bustling Greektown neighbourhood on Danforth Ave., leaders from all levels of government started discussing a potential handgun ban.
Now, controversial Premier Doug Ford is pledging to take “real action” guns and gangs, pledging to invest $25 million to “crack down on bail offenders and equip police with the tools they need.”
The province says the new funding is above and beyond the $76 million already being provided to support the Toronto Police Service.
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“It’s time to get serious about fighting guns and gangs,” said Ford. “And I’m proud to say our government is stepping up to the plate to do our part. With today’s announcement, we are sending a clear message to the violent criminals carrying out gun violence on our streets. We are letting them know that we are coming for them. We are giving our police the cutting-edge tools that they need to fight drug gangs and gun criminals in 2018.”
As part of the funding, the province says it will invest $7.6 million in assigning one legal SWAT team per courthouse to be located at each of Toronto’s provincial courthouses. The province says the team will be led by a Crown Attorney with a mandate to ensure people charged with alleged gun offenses are denied bail.
Some experts are unsure of how the province will keep this rhetorically strong (but potentially hollow) promise.
The government says it will dedicate $18 million in funding to provide additional digital, investigative and analytical resources necessary for fighting drug gangs and gun criminals in 2018.
Ford has not pledged support for a handgun ban and there is no mention of funding for preventative, community-based programs in his government’s news release.