Monday, August 15, 2005

Anything but catastrophe

It's so unfortunate when facts don't jibe with a manufactured panic, isn't it? As Canadian politicians express alarm about a rising tide of guns smuggled from the United States, statistics obtained by The Globe and Mail show that federal border guards are seizing fewer firearms and Toronto police are pulling no more guns off the streets than they ordinarily do. The Canada Border Services Agency says it has intercepted 318 guns so far in 2005, below the more than 1,000 seized guns that border guards have averaged annually during the past five years, and far fewer than the 1,500 seized annually in the 1990s. And while Toronto Police Service Chief Bill Blair was widely quoted last week as saying his officers have seized more than 2,000 guns so far in 2005, civilians in his statistics department say the chief inadvertently "misspoke." Their official tally is only 1,151, consistent with the pace of seizures in recent years. [...] But if a glut of guns exists on Canadians streets, the weapons have not materialized overnight. The border agency says its lower seizure numbers stem from anti-smuggling efforts. Meanwhile, the union representing border guards disagrees, saying a lack of resources leaves its members intercepting, at the most, one out of every 20 guns coming north. No one really knows how many guns are crossing the border, but experts say plenty of problems lie in Canada's backyard and the Americans are not about to solve them. "Guns from the U.S. are an issue, but a small part of the bigger picture," said Paul Culver, a senior Toronto Crown Attorney. However, that doesn't mean that some specific cases of smuggling aren't worrisome. CNN) -- Two men tried to re-enter Canada from the United States early Saturday with handguns and ammunition strapped to their bodies, Canadian police said. Ali Dirie, 22, and Yasin Mohamed, 23 -- both Canadians from the Toronto area -- face weapons-related charges and are in police custody in Niagara Falls, Ontario, according to a police statement. Ontario's Provincial Weapons Enforcement Team and the Niagara Regional Police Service are investigating. Forbid most private firearm ownership, and is it any wonder that there's a smuggling problem, unattributable to the American market as it may be? Or that the law-abiding, left unarmed, will get caught in the crossfire between gangs and who-knows-what else?


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