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More on The Boxing Day Shootings

News reports indicate that the gun seized in arrests made at Castle Frank station after the Boxing Day shooting has been linked to the incident. That Toronto Star article says they haven't been linked directly to the bullet that hit Jane Creba. However, the police do have the deadly bullet and are running tests on it.

One of the suspects arrested shortly after the Boxing Day shooting is Andre Thompson. 20-year-old Thompson had just been released from prison and was on probation. He had served only 30 days in connection to a convenience store robbery.

The title of that Globe and Mail article suggests that it is crucial to determine whether or not the gun found with Thompson and his under-age associate was the one that fired the deadly bullet. However, as far as I'm concerned, everyone who was shooting that day is equally culpable because any one of them could have killed an innocent bystander, and all of them were trying to murder other gang members.

I don't know the details of Thompson's convenience store robbery, but all robbery is serious and seems like it merits much more than 30 days in jail. In fact, 30 days sounds like a joke. Critics of tougher sentencing suggest that it does not act as a deterrent. Whether that's true or not, putting bad guys in jail obviously puts them somewhere they can't shoot anybody.

The Alberta Avenue blog has reprinted a letter to the National Post that discusses the stiff gun-crime sentencing in place in Florida, which I would support:

In 1999, the Florida legislature passed sweeping legislation that provides for enhanced minimum mandatory prison terms and no parole for offenders who commit crimes with guns.

It ensured: a minimum three-year prison term for possession of a firearm by a felon; a minimum 10-year prison term for crime committed with a firearm; a minimum 20-year jail term when the firearm is discharged; a minimum 25 years to life if someone is injured or killed.

It seems that all politicians now agree that we need a combination of better enforcement and more social programs aimed at marginalized youth. The sentencing rules I mention above aren't all we need to do to improve enforcement -- Jack Layton mentioned some other ideas yesterday. The witness protection programs he suggest may help with the poor cooperation police are getting, but bail reform seems just as necessary. McGuinty has some good ideas, too.

Ontario leaders and Toronto police are talking about public surveillance cameras, but I don't know how useful they'd really be in most cases.

On the social program front, commenters in my previous post may be interested to read this in today's National Post:

[Ontario PC leader John] Tory said Toronto also needs to expand social programming for the city's troubled neighbourhoods. He acknowledged that many of the cuts to such programs occurred during the provincial reign of his party under Mike Harris. "Everybody has to shoulder a share of the blame," he said. "If it's about fixing past mistakes, then so be it."

Yesterday's National Post printed one Yonge Street drug dealer's opinions on who was behind the Boxing Day shootings, and what they were about. He also says why he thinks gun crime is way up. The short story is turf wars between gangs fighting over lucrative crack, cocaine and crystal meth customers. Additionally, changes in gang leadership have left young hot-heads in charge.

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