It has been a difficult few weeks for the Toronto Police Service, as well as for Toronto’s 2.93 million residents, as Canada’s biggest city has been grappling with a significant spike in gun-related violence. During the first weekend of August alone, 14 separate shootings caused 17 injuries across the city, causing Toronto Mayor John Tory to call for a city-wide ban on handguns. Earlier this morning, John Tory met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to discuss strategies to combat the city’s gun violence.
Tory and Trudeau's meeting comes only one day after the federal, provincial and municipal government joined together to announce they would be offering a combined $4.5 million in funding to Toronto police, in a bid to help the force tackle the city’s gun violence.
During their meeting, John Tory was expected to speak with Trudeau about his desire to ban handguns city-wide in Toronto, with the city’s mayor stating in the past that there is a “need for a ban on handguns, assault rifles, and semi-automatic firearms.”
After Toronto’s long weekend of violence at the beginning of August, Tory tweeted, “All of these initiatives are much needed if we are to stop the spread of guns, help police crack down on illegal guns and those who have them, and address the root causes of gang and gun activity.”
Speaking to the media after his meeting with the Prime Minister, Tory expressed his feelings that not enough had been done yet by Trudeau to control gun violence in the city, but added that the best results would come with time. He said, “At a time of increased anxiety and increased criminal activity in our city, I’ve asked the prime minister to consider doing more.”
Tory continued, “I believe that while it takes longer to get the effects you need, the investment in kids and families and neighborhoods, programs that work, that can work and that must work, are programs we must invest more in together.”
Also speaking to the media after their meeting, Trudeau stressed the need for a “holistic” approach to tackling the city’s gun violence, which considers improving education, housing, and infrastructure. During his statement, he promised to continue working to eradicate gun violence in Toronto, saying, “We will continue to invest in controlling our guns, and keeping our communities safer.”
While Trudeau did not make a comment on whether his government would support Tory's suggestion of a city-wide handgun ban, the Prime Minister did state that his party’s platform in the run-up to October’s federal election would include “strengthening gun control.”
It has not yet been revealed how exactly Toronto Police will allocate the $4.5 million in funding to tackle gun crime, however, Police Chief Mark Saunders did note that he would be laying out a plan to deal with Toronto’s gun violence in the next few days.