Volume 93, Issue 78

Thursday, February 17, 2000


NEWS

White Paper talks reveal concerns

Breast cancer study pays off

Research projects rake in funds

Harris speaks out on gun control

City task force targets housing

Gas prices lead to finger pointing

Internet use decreases social interaction

Stuff

Caught on campus

Harris speaks out on gun control



By Leena Kamat
Gazette Staff

The Ontario premier wants to crack down on illegal guns.

On Tuesday, Premier Mike Harris said he wants stricter penalties for people found with illegal handguns, said Hillary Stauth, Harris' press secretary.

"I think if you went to any high school you could, within talking to five students, find out where to get not only an illegal gun, but drugs and other illegal things. I don't like it," she said, quoting his speech.

Harris' concern was the result of a recent shooting at a Toronto high school and the public outcry which followed, Stauth said. She added Harris felt the federal government's $200 million gun registry program was a waste of money and could be put to a better use. Harris will be in court next week challenging the registry, she said.

"The gun registry is a bureaucratic waste of money," Stauth continued. "The money spent on the gun registry would be better spent on more police on the streets."

Louis Cromier, media spokesperson for the Canadian Firearms Centre of the federal department of justice, said he defended the federal program. "We believe the program is working and we have the numbers to prove it," he said.

Michael Bryant, Liberal member of provincial parliament and justice critic, said Harris was siding with the gun lobbyists. "[Harris] doesn't know what he is talking about because we already have [gun control laws] in place," he added.

"We should be working with the federal government to make gun control laws work."

The London Police have seized 143 illegal guns since the beginning of 1999, said Const. Tracey Frizzell, media spokesperson for the police. This includes guns found in criminal investigations as well those belonging to people without the proper licensing, she said.

Frizzell added many of the guns seized from young people were obtained by offenders through break and enter crimes. If gun owners could learn how to safely handle and store their guns, gun thefts might decrease, she said.

Ontario's Ministry of Education has a plan to combat high school violence, said Rob Savage, spokesperson for the Ministry. He said they were working on a provincewide code of conduct in place to prevent incidents in high schools. Some of the policies include automatic expulsion for weapon possession on school property and tougher trespasser laws, he said.

"We've been clear that students have a right to learn in a safe environment," Savage said.

Bryant added the provincial Liberals had a five point plan concerning gun control. The plan states the government has to work with the existing laws, bring litigation against gun manufacturers to cover health care costs, pass legislation requiring trigger locks, appeal legislation which allows 12 year-olds to possess guns and institute a "Guns For Good" program where people can trade guns for other things with no questions asked, Bryant explained.


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