From Yorkregion.com: October 26, 2009, 56 illegal handguns taken off streets this year, board hears
Posted by cgccanada on October 28, 2009
The Uzi submachine gun can spew hundreds of rounds per minute. The Glock handgun, capable of firing up to 33 bullets from a single magazine. The tiny Beretta pistol with silencer delivers noiseless death. These lethal weapons and others were recently and illegally in the hands of criminals. Wednesday, the seized weapons were neatly and safely displayed as part of a police services board presentation on illegal firearms and weapons in our neighbourhoods. The cache represents some of the 68 hand guns seized in 2007, the 41 last year and the 56 to date this year. As for illegal long guns, such as rifles and shotguns, police took 188 of them off York streets last year. This year, the tally is 196. We’re proud this is one of the safest communities in Canada, Police Chief Armand La Barge said at the meeting. But there is a growing concern about illegal firearms. Intelligence unit Det.-Sgt. Duncan MacIntyre and community services Sgt. Mark Altermann confirmed the chiefs consternation. Since the invention of guns, people have romanticized their use. Ours is a gun culture populated and popularized by perpetuators of gun mythology. Discussing entertainers influence on impressionable youth, they cited rapper 50 Cent latest album, whose 17 tracks include 10 glorifying guns. Violent video games encourage carnage, rewarding players for brutal kills, all the while desensitizing the virtual shooter to reality, they added. Guns are also a lucrative underground trade. A legal standard 9mm pistol sells for approximately $500. On the street, the same unlicensed weapon fetches up to eight times the price. Ditto for ammo. Nationally and regionally, illegal firearms and weapons are a blooming bane, particularly for our young people. Canada is fifth among industrialized countries in firearm deaths of children under 14, Det. Sgt. MacIntyre told the board. Firearms kill more within the 15 to 24 demographic than cancer, drowning and falls combined. Part of the problem is legal supply and illegal demand. Of the 3.65 million firearms produced in the United States in 2008, hundreds are smuggled into Canada each year. Of the 253,000 handguns and more than two million rifles and shotguns legally registered in Ontario, 16,000 of the former and 70,000 of the latter are in York Region. That makes York a target-rich market for illegal weapons, police said. The number of seizures of illegal weapons is on the increase, Det.-Sgt. MacIntyre said. Robberies with handguns are on the rise in York Region too. Nationally, 67 per cent of homicides involve handguns, Sgt. Altermann said. In York, between 2007, five of the seven homicides involved a handgun. So far this year, there have been 71 robberies, including home invasions, that involved a handgun compared to 64 last year. Even fake or replica weapons are a potentially deadly issue. If an officer encounters a suspect with a weapon, real or not, they are trained to react,ťSgt. Altermann said. We’re seeing more (replica guns) in usage. Theyre difficult to determine in any environment. Often, there’s a tragic ending. Cognizant of the problem, our police forces guns and gangs enforcement unit is collaborating with the provincial weapons and enforcement unit and the firearms tracing and enforcement program.Education, through the regions two school boards character programs and responsible ownership seminars spreads cautionary messages. Licensing and registration can stem the flow of illegal guns as can revoking ownership from irresponsible owners, they said. The criminal justice system too, can serve as a deterrent. Current mandatory sentences for illegal gun and ammunition possession is three years jail time for the first offense and five years for a second.
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