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June 24, 2008
Toronto flexes municipal muscle to address gun violence
Toronto City Council today reinforced its strategy of balanced prevention and enforcement to deter gun-related offences by approving the use of municipal authority to reduce the availability of handguns in Toronto. Recommendations outlined in a report on City-based measures to address gun violence include utilizing land use zoning bylaws, enforcing appropriate use of City-owned facilities and advocacy.

Amendments to a Toronto land use zoning bylaw will restrict the use of guns and gun-associated activities, such as the discharge of guns at firing ranges and by gun clubs, to establishments operated by police. The amendments will also restrict or prohibit establishments that manufacture, assemble, warehouse or distribute guns. These restrictions would apply only to new firearm-related uses. Existing businesses and legal use of firearms would continue to operate until such time as a property or establishment changes to a different use or the use is discontinued. Additionally, activities involving guns, such as target practice by gun clubs in City-owned facilities, will not be permitted.

“Toronto is doing its part within its limited jurisdiction to address gun violence,” said Mayor David Miller. “Now it’s up to the federal government to pass legislation banning handguns.” Citing international studies that point out improved levels of safety and lower rates of gun violence in jurisdictions that have severely restricted or banned handguns outright, Mayor Miller said that he, with the support of mayors from municipalities across Canada, will continue to advocate for a national ban on handgun possession. “The people of Toronto have given us a mandate to make our safe city safer and to ensure that prevention and enforcement efforts respond to the shifting challenges presented by handgun violence,” added Mayor Miller. “Even though handgun violence is an issue that transcends municipal boundaries and supersedes municipal jurisdiction - we must use every tool at our disposal to address the health and safety threats that handgun violence poses to Torontonians and, indeed, to all Canadians. There is no such thing as a “safe” handgun. We need to get them off the streets and out of our homes,” Mayor Miller continued.

The City of Toronto has long understood that the roots of gun violence are complex, and must be addressed through a comprehensive approach as outlined in Toronto’s Community Safety Plan, where all orders of government, police services, community agencies and businesses unite to effect change. Banning handguns is one action that, along with appropriate social supports, will break the cycle of violence in Toronto.

Toronto is Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. In the past three years, Toronto has won more than 70 awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. Toronto’s government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.

Media contacts:
Don Wanagas, Office of Mayor Miller, 416-338-7134
Nancy Matthews, Executive Director, Social Development, Finance and Administration, 416-392-5207



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