The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police won’t be supporting a call for a ban on handguns despite concerns about gun violence in a number of major cities including Toronto.
Vancouver police Chief Adam Palmer, who heads the organization, says Canada already has strong firearms regulations and no other law is required.
Toronto Mayor John Tory is asking the federal government for a handgun ban and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he will consider additional gun-control measures.
There were 14 separate shootings recorded in Toronto over the August long weekend alone.
Palmer says in the majority of cases involving gun violence, the handguns being used are already illegal and it makes no sense to ban something that is already prohibited.
“In every single case there are already offences for that. They’re already breaking the law and the criminal law in Canada addresses all of those circumstances,” Palmer said Wednesday at the conclusion of the association’s annual conference.
“The firearms laws in Canada are actually very good right now. They’re very strict.”
The prime minister has highlighted recently passed gun-control legislation that extends the scope of background checks and strengthens record-keeping requirements for gun retailers.
Earlier this week, he said Canadians will learn more about Liberal plans for gun control during the upcoming campaign.
“I very much look forward to the election campaign in which we will be able to share with Canadians our vision for how to keep Canadians safer,” Trudeau said.
“That involves, yes, strengthening gun control but it also involves investments that … are so deeply needed in community infrastructure.”
Palmer suggested that handguns would still be around, even with a ban, because of Canada’s proximity to the United States.
“People can’t be naive to the realities of how it works with organized crime and smuggling,” he said.
“There will always be an influx of guns from the United States into Canada,” said Palmer. “Heroin is illegal in Canada, too, but we have heroin in Canada.
The association also discussed harassment and bullying in the workplace and the importance of making sure there are mental- health supports for those in policing.
“We have had suicides in Canada. I’ve had an officer die by suicide in my own department this year. It’s a very terrible thing to go through for the police service and there have been other services that have gone through this across Canada as well.
“They’re dealing with sexual assaults and child abuse, car chases, people with guns, people who have been shot and stabbed, exposure to blood and people spitting on them, swearing at them, assaulting them and they come back the next day and do it all over again.”