By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa
With 2018 being deemed ‘The Year of the Gun’ by some media outlets, Oshawa Mayor John Henry wants more action.
At the latest regional council meeting, Henry sought support for the region to request 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.’
“Young people are carrying guns with no understanding of the consequences,” Henry told his colleagues.
In recent months, Durham has seen its fair share of gun-related incidents, including four people being injured after shots were fired at Ribfest in Pickering, and the DRPS, along with other police agencies, dismantling a gun-smuggling operation between Ontario and the United States.
Ajax Mayor Steve Parish questioned how the region could make a formal request to the ‘judicial system.’
“There is no such body that exists,” Parish said, noting that he believes it would also be “illegal and unconstitutional.”
“Every four years it becomes fashionable to bash the courts and say judges are doing bad things.”
Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan, who seconded Henry’s motion, stated the intent wasn’t to gain public favour.
“It’s about standing up for residents who have experienced gun violence,” he said.
Oshawa Councillor Amy McQuaid-England said there is more to the issue than just people carrying guns.
She said many of those carrying weapons live in areas with high poverty rates, and a lack of employment opportunities.
“There is gang activity that keeps young kids from having opportunities [to move] out of the area. They are in situations and places they don’t want to be in, and make decisions that are not necessarily the smartest decisions,” McQuaid-England said.
However, Oshawa Councillor Dan Carter said gun violence and poverty do not always correlate.
“Not all people in poverty carry guns or are involved in gun violence,” he said. “There’s been a 55 per cent increase in shootings alone in Toronto. Let’s not tie these two incidents together. A large number of shootings are related to criminal activity.”
McQuaid-England took umbrage with Carter’s opinion.
“Please don’t discredit what I said. Poverty is integral to gun violence and those who are affected by it,” she added, noting that young Black men are much more proportionally affected by gun violence.