Half of the students in a local Grade 10 class own or know someone with an illegal handgun. York South Weston MP Mike Sullivan made this claim in Parliament yesterday as he discussed a bill to allow citizens a stronger reaction when confronted by a criminal. Students divulged that the predominant reason for possession of a firearm is for self-defence. The school in question is likely York-Humber as Mr Sullivan visited there last week.
Before we run off madly in all directions, we need to take the revelation with a large grain of salt. The question referred to owning or knowing someone who owned an illegal gun. This is hardly a scientific survey. Grade 10 boys are prone to exaggeration and would want to look cool in front of their buddies and a visiting VIP. In addition, Mr Sullivan was making a point in Parliament and perhaps he too got carried away.
If guns were as prevalent as Mr Sullivan’s informal survey indicates at first glance, our neighbourhood and indeed Toronto would be like the wild west. Fortunately, the murder rate in Toronto is one of the lowest in the country and far lower than any major U.S. city. Let’s keep our perspective on this. There are guns out there but the need for attention of a few Grade 10 students should not be allowed to outweigh more reliable evidence.