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February 5, 2009

Public Gun Control

I don’t know where I was, but I missed the day we in the GTA decided to give control of our city to gun-wielding thugs. I missed the day we stepped back, allowing the gangs to infiltrate our neighbourhoods, destroying everything in their path. I definitely missed the day our judicial system decided those committing such crimes don’t need actual punishments; I would have remembered that.

Thursday at Osgoode station, a young man opened fire at another man, hitting him in the abdomen and right thigh. By late afternoon, it was already old news; another day, another shooting. Have shootings become so commonplace in Toronto that we barely notice?

On the contrary, we are being held hostage by these people – utterly powerless, in our own city, to defend ourselves. People are quick to blame the police, but the police are not the problem. The problem resides in our revolving-door legal system, which is quick to forgive and forget, allowing these people back on our streets within hours of arrest, or after serving terms too short for their crimes.

It is time for the GTA residents to demand more from The Powers That Be; demand protection from thugs and gang-bangers, and demand changes to our legal system to reflect our society. A society does not exist in a vacuum, and neither should our laws.

Without a doubt it is time to do away with our Youth Criminal Justice Act, as it does nothing but create a safe haven for youths to run amok in our streets, with lax punishments and (often) publication bans on their side. If a 14- or 15-year-old decides to get involved in a gang, and use a gun to hurt or kill someone, their picture should be splashed across every newspaper we have. Everyone should know who they are and what they’ve done, and their punishment should be severe enough to ensure it doesn’t happen again. To all the bleeding hearts out there who beg for mercy for these youths: By this age, you know what you are doing and you know the difference between right and wrong. Make the wrong choice and suffer the consequences. If teenagers risked spending actual time behind bars for their crimes, they might think twice.

To the adult offenders out there (how many of you were youth offenders, I wonder?!): it is time for actual, serious jail terms. People who bring guns to our streets and put bullets in our citizens should not have a chance to do it again quickly. People charged with gun-related crimes should not receive bail, since as we’ve seen, being out on bail does not prevent further criminal activity.

To the adult offenders who are here from other countries: you have squandered a great opportunity and don’t deserve another. Don’t let the door hit you on the butt on the way back home, and don’t bother asking to come back. You are a waste of space in this country; space that could be taken up by a law-abiding newcomer with something great to contribute.

It’s time for us to take back our city, and demand action from our elected officials. Stop coddling these violent offenders, and start effecting change. Enough is enough.

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