Canada leader vows to ban handguns as Toronto bleeds

September 22nd, 2008 - 12:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Sep 22 (IANS) With random shootings and stabbings already claiming a dozen lives in Toronto city and its suburbs this month, the main opposition New Democratic Party has vowed to ban handguns in Canada.The killings, mostly teens, are linked to the fast spreading gun and drug culture in major Canadian cities.

Police say the easy smuggling of illegal guns and drugs from across the US has spawned a culture of violence of unheard of proportions.

The latest victim was a 23-year-old Indo-Canadian youth Paramprit Dhindsa who was killed in a drug deal gone wrong last Tuesday.

Though Toronto mayor David Miller and provincial premier Dalton McGuinty have demanded ban on illegal handguns, the federal government of the Conservative Party is not in favour of such a ban.

In Canada, such crimes fall under the preview of the Canadian criminal code which can be amended only by the federal (central) government in Ottawa.

But since the current ruling Conservative Party draws its strength from rural areas where hunting is a pastime for people, it does not want to ban the handguns.

However, with the country in the midst of an election campaign, pressure is mounting on all the four federal parties to ban handguns.

Taking the initiative Sunday, the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) declared that if it is voted into power it will empower provinces, cities, and towns to ban handguns.

NDP leader Jack Layton said if he becomes the prime minister, “there will be a 100 per cent ban on the sale, import and use of handguns.

“As Prime Minister I will bring forward (the enabling) legislation to enable all provinces and territories - all communities - to do the same should they so wish.”

Opposing liberalised US-style gun laws in Canada, Layton said: “Americans pay a terrible price for their reckless approach to firearms and people in this country don’t want that here.”

The leader of the smaller Green Party, Elizabeth May, is also in favour such a ban.

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