Toronto’s board of health is set to vote next week on whether or not to formally ask the provincial government for a ban on handguns.
The ban would prohibit the availability, sale, possession, and use of handguns, assault rifles, and semi-automatic firearms in the City of Toronto. The board is also seeking a ban on the sale of handgun ammunition.
The requests are also part of a broader initiative to take a public health approach to dealing with gun violence — a major issue in the city.
Toronto Mayor John Tory has been calling for a gun ban for over a year, but municipalities don’t have the power to legislate one on their own. So far, however, the provincial government has suggested it won’t block people from legally obtaining the weapons.
In a statement to CBC News last month, a spokesperson for Attorney General Doug Downey said while protecting citizens has been an “urgent priority” for the province, “it has not been demonstrated that banning legal firearms and targeting law-abiding citizens would meaningfully address the problem of gun violence.”
The statement also pointed to an Aug. 26 joint announcement between the federal and provincial governments to beef up the fight against guns and gangs in Ontario.
Gun ban front and centre in federal election campaign
Ahead of last month’s election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed to ban semi-automatic assault weapons and enable municipalities to restrict or prohibit handguns.
Trudeau made the announcement in Toronto’s Greektown last month, the site of a deadly gun rampage last summer.
The Board of Health’s motion comes after a number of high-profile shootings, including one that wounded five teenagers.
If approved by the board, the matter will go before the full city council later this month.