Tory says judges must consider community safety in gun cases

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After a weekend of gun violence in Toronto, Mayor John Tory expresses his frustration with a system that doesn’t take community safety seriously enough. Sitting in his City Hall office for an exclusive interview, Tory once again laments the revolving door that is our gun violence bail system.

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For years, the mayor has called for bail reform to ensure repeat offenders are not let out onto the streets to reoffend after being arrested for a firearm.

“It’s not just one of those things that happens once in a blue moon,” Tory said of repeat offenders.

“If three or four times you know, even before your cases are settled, you are charged again and again and released on bail, that is symptomatic of a serious problem.”

In the past, when he has made such comments, Tory has been the subject of complaints to the bar because the rules state that lawyers must not criticize judges.

“I think judges should, to a greater extent, consider the thoughts of the community and in regards to their own safety and the thoughts of the community in regards to people walking around with guns in their pockets,” Tory said.

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“If they want to call it a criticism of the judges, they can call it if they want. I would just say that maybe it’s me making a comment about this difficult job that judges have and how they could think more of the public when making these decisions.

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In 2019, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders shocked many Torontonians when he said 326 people out on bail had been arrested and charged with gun crimes. I’m told today’s numbers are quite similar to that shocking statistic from three years ago.

Shootings, meanwhile, are on the rise, according to the data portal run by the Toronto Police Service.

So far this year, Toronto has seen 223 shootings, leaving 85 injured and 26 killed. This represents a 13.2% increase in shootings over the same period last year, a 6.3% increase in injuries and a 30% increase in gunshot deaths.

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Year-to-date, we’ve had the worst year for gunshot deaths since 2018 and we’re on track to beat 2019 for all shootings. This is the year with the worst record of firearm-related incidents in the past five years.

There have been years where 223 shootings would be a bad total for 12 months instead of six and a half. For example, in 2014 there were only 177 total shootings. In 2005, dubbed the year of the gun, there were 262 incidents over the entire year.

While calling on judges to be tougher on repeat offenders, Tory credits federal and provincial governments for doing what they can to help. He said the provincial program to assign special prosecutors to oppose bail in court has helped, and he thanks the federal government for investing more in technology to help catch guns. fire smuggled across the border.

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  1. A 13-year-old boy is facing a second-degree murder charge in the fatal shooting last Wednesday of another teenager at 72 Gamble Ave.  just west of Pape Ave.  in East York.

    GOLDSTEIN: Gun violence in Toronto skyrockets; no politician will say why

  2. A view down the barrel of a semi-automatic handgun displayed during the NRA's 143rd Annual Meeting and Exhibits at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, Ind. on April 25, 2014.

    WARMINGTON: Move to Chicago, gun violence in Toronto catches up

  3. Stephon Little-McClacken, 24, of Toronto, was fatally shot outside Scotiabank Arena on July 16, 2022.

    Man shot dead outside Scotiabank Arena

He is full of praise for Toronto Police Service officers, whose budget Tory says he won’t support the cuts.

What Tory doesn’t have is a silver bullet solution to the city’s gun crime problem. Maybe because it’s bigger than him, bigger than the city and he needs help from the governments above.

This would involve the federal government focusing on real solutions rather than theater freezes or gun bans that target law-abiding gun owners but do nothing to address the problems of shootings in the streets of Toronto. Bans and freezes, however, are making headlines. Hard work and bail reform don’t.

Which leaves Toronto alone with a problem the city and John Tory can’t solve alone.

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