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Mayor says enforcing current laws best way to fight gun violence

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

With recent mass shootings in Fredericton and Toronto, and another man shot on Aug. 21, gun violence has surged to the top of conversation in both the public and political spectrum.

Earlier this month, Premier Doug Ford pledged to spend $25 million in funding to create “legal SWAT teams” to stop gun offenders from receiving bail.

City councils in both Toronto and Montreal have passed resolutions asking for a ban on handgun sales in Canada.

There have been eight homicides in Durham so far in 2018, almost matching 2017’s total nine.

Last year’s total was an increase itself, as Durham has averaged between four and six homicides a year for some time.

While providing an update to regional council in January, Durham Region Police Chief Paul Martin said last year’s increase was “worrisome” to him.

“Obviously the increase is a concern, and I’m hoping this is not the beginning of a trend,” he said.

In June, regional council requested the federal and provincial Attorney Generals to “re-examine and re-assess all firearm legislation and ask the judicial system to provide reassurances that the maximum sentences with respect to firearm offences under the Criminal Code of Canada are being upheld.”

Henry’s motion also called for resources and funding for programs designed to support the removal and seizure of ‘street level guns.’

Lastly, Henry wants the attorney generals to create a public information program that ‘explains the consequences of using a gun in the process of a crime.’

Since the resolution was passed, there have been several highly profiled shootings included the death of two women on Danforth Avenue after a gunman shot at a restaurant late on a Sunday evening.

Henry remains steadfast in his concerns. However, he doesn’t necessarily believe a ban on handguns is the step that needs to be taken.

“I am in support of the rules that are already in place. If the rules were enforced, we probably wouldn’t have to do the other part,” he told The Oshawa Express.

To Henry, the idea of a ban wouldn’t have an immediate effect on the issue.

“I think for all intents and purposes that would take a very long time to do,” he says.

The mayor says he does receives calls from concerned residents when there are shootings in Oshawa, but points out there are many factors to look at.

“You also need to check the person’s postal code. You’ll find that a lot of the people who are causing trouble are not Oshawa residents,” he says.

The best way to combat gun violence is to make sure those “who break the rules are held accountable,” he adds.

“There are minimums and maximums and it’d be nice to see the maximums enforced.”