Over at The Torontoist, I have been involved in a debate about whether tougher sentencing, or Paul Martin's ban on handguns would do more to prevent incidents like the Boxing Day shootings.
In my view, an article in today's National Post has a lot of relevance to this question. This article has more information on Andre Thompson, the 20-year-old who was one of two arrests made so far in the case.
I already knew that Thompson had recently been released from a short stay in jail for involvement in a robbery. The Post article tells us about that case. Thompson plead guilty to armed robbery of a North York convenience store and was sentenced to two 30-day jail terms. To be served concurrently. This was not his first offence.
Personally, I find it rather amazing to think that all you get for armed robbery is 30 days in jail. I naively thought that serious crimes received serious penalties.
Anyway, the point here is that even if Thompson had merely been required to serve his jail terms consecutively instead of concurrently -- never mind a real penalty -- he would have still been in jail on Boxing Day. On the other hand, we have no reason to believe that Martin's handgun ban would have prevented Thompson from having a gun.
Now, that's not to say that I don't support making handguns even more difficult to get. Having fewer of them in Canada means there are fewer for crooks to steal. Nor am I foolish enough to say that stiffer sentences would have prevented this recent shooting.
However, my opinion is that Paul Martin's handgun ban is part of a Liberal Party pattern. They have frequently ignored the needs of Torontonians on many occasions, only to react -- as little as possible -- when electoral circumstances force their hand. That is, your votes are taken for granted and Toronto MPs are ineffectual.
There's no reason why we can't have both a handgun ban and tougher sentences for gun crimes. (And also improved social programs for youth at risk, better witness protection services, bail reform, and better border control.) It just bothers me a lot that when Mayor David Miller and Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant asked the federal government for tougher sentences for gun crime this summer, the federal government said they aren't needed. And now that there is an election at hand that they might lose, they suddenly spring to action.
Anyway, I actually find that the Conservatives and NDP have somewhat similar approaches to this issue, and both would be superior to the Liberal plan. The Liberal plan isn't bad, but when you combine it with their record of inaction I am not convinced they would produce any change.