REGINA — A Saskatchewan police chief says he doesn’t think banning handguns is the answer to concerns about gun violence, but he believes there’s more room for regulation.
Regina police Chief Evan Bray, co-chair of a special firearms committee with the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, points to federal legislation that tightens security and storage of firearms in businesses as a step in the right direction.
He said gun crime needs to be tackled from different angles and the answer must also include looking at prevention and how to deal with offenders.
“Banning something doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not going to have firearm-related crime in your community,” said Bray.
The police chiefs association has already said it won’t support calls for a handgun ban coming from Toronto Mayor John Tory after a spate of shootings in that city.
Bray said that in Regina most firearm-related offences are linked to long guns or modified weapons such as sawed-off shotguns.
A spokeswoman for the Saskatoon Police Service said sawed-off long guns are the most common firearm police see in the city.
Those convicted of firearm offences should face “stiff consequences,” Bray said, but he stopped short of calling for harsher punishments.
“I feel like sometimes we, in general — whether it’s the city of Regina or the country of Canada — become desensitized to firearms,” he said.
“We can’t let that sort of attitude drift into prosecutions and, ultimately, where we go when it comes to holding offenders accountable.”
Bray acknowledged the issue of gun control is political.
He pointed to Saskatchewan, which has rural roots and where firearms are used for legitimate reasons such as pest control, hunting and sport.
“This isn’t … an exercise for us to try and further restrict or victimize people that are obeying the law when it comes to firearms.”