The Coalition for Gun Control/Pour le Controle des Armes

From Advocacynet, August 3, 2009, An Interview with Dr. Alok Mukherjee, Chair, Toronto Police Services Board

Posted by cgccanada on August 5, 2009

Dr. Alok Mukherjee is the current Chair of Toronto’s Police Services Board. He joined the board in 2004, having been appointed by the City Council, and was elected by his colleagues as Chair in 2005.  Prior to his service with the Board, Dr. Mukherjee served as Acting Chief Commissioner and Vice Chair of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, and was also a member of the Ontario Civilian Coalition on Police Services. Additionally, he was an instructor of South Asian studies at York University. The Toronto Police Services Board has many responsibilities, including determining the objectives and priorities of their municipalities police services in conjunction with the Chief of Police, establishing policies for the effective management of their police services, and establishing guidelines for the administration of the public complaints system.  Despite his very busy schedule, Dr. Mukherjee spent time with me talking about the usefulness of the Firearms Act not only in combating domestic violence, but also other problems such as gang violence.  According to Dr. Mukherjee, because police officers are the individuals that actually utilize the measures included in the Firearms Act, they are best equipped and most able to comment on its effectiveness. The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the Canadian Association of Police Boards, and the Canadian Police Association all publicly support the Firearms Act. Dr. Mukherjee feels that this should carry more weight with policymakers and the public than it currently does. Dr. Mukherjee thinks that there is a direct parallel between gun control, crime, and quality of life. With gun control measures in place, fewer domestic disputes turn deadly, and fewer mentally ill individuals gain access to firearms and use them during psychotic episodes.  In addition, a reduction in gang violence results (which is a significant problem in Toronto), and even rare situations, like guns being pulled during bouts of road rage, decrease. In other words, gun control correlates with safety, and when individuals and communities are safer, there is an increase in quality of life.  In fact, although the Police Services Board supports the Firearms Act, they think that it should go even further to protect society. Among the changes the Board believes need to be made to the Firearms Act are stricter enforcement measures at the borders, and clearer marking of stolen firearms. By marking seized firearms that may lack serial numbers, the government and police would have a clearer idea of the total number of guns in Canada. Additionally, the current loophole that allows manufacturers to slightly alter a firearm and market it to the public as a new model not needing to be registered (because the list included in the legislation it out of date and contained no measure to regularly update it) needs to be corrected… more

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