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article imageOntario bill provides for seizure of cars when illegal guns found

By Arthur Weinreb     Jul 24, 2014 in Technology
Toronto - A private member's bill introduced by Liberal MPP Mike Colle would allow police to seize vehicles and suspend the license of drivers when an illegal handgun is found inside the vehicle.
Colle introduced Bill 24, An act to amend the Highway Traffic Act and the Civil Remedies Act, 2001 yesterday. The bill gives the police the power to seize vehicles and suspend the license of drivers when an illegal handgun is found in the vehicle. The proposed law will only apply to illegal handguns; long guns and those possessed legally will not be affected.
Colle said in the legislature that anyone who drives with a loaded illegal handgun in their vehicle should be off the road and that is what his private member's bill is about. Colle said the weakness of federal criminal laws necessitates the steps taken in his proposed legislation.
In Canada, the federal government has jurisdiction over criminal law and firearms ownership while road safety, driving, and vehicle licencing falls to provincial and territorial governments.
Colle previously introduced an identical bill in May that died when the legislature was dissolved and an election called. Under Bill 24, a vehicle can be seized and the driver's license suspended for a period of one week if police believe, on reasonable and probable grounds, that an illegal handgun was in the car.
Anyone convicted of driving with an illegal handgun in their vehicle would face up to six months in jail and a fine ranging from $2,000 to $10,000. They would also have their licences suspended. Suspensions would be a year for a first offence and five years for a second conviction. A third conviction would result in an indefinite licence suspension.
Prior to introducing the bill, Colle said the federal law is a joke. "They find someone with a gun in their car, they say, 'Well, it's not my car, it's my Uncle Lewie's car.' They always walk."
Colle gave an example of the killing of Toronto teacher, Abshir Hassan, who was killed recently in a drive-by shooting as an example of why the law is needed. The MPP also said he heard of a case where a limo was stopped, six guns were found in it, but the driver escaped punishment.
Ontario's Public Safety Minister Yasir Naqvi said he will work with Colle on the bill. "It is absolutely not only frustrating, it is dangerous to the safety of our communities." But Naqvi stopped short of saying the Liberal government will support the proposed legislation.
NDP leader Andrea Horwath said she is in favour of banning handguns but wants to read the bill before deciding whether or not her party will support it.
Private members' bills rarely make it into law. But if the Liberals, who have a majority government, end up supporting Bill 24 it will easily pass.
More about mpp mike colle, illegal handguns, seizure of vehicles, drivers licence suspensions, private member's bill
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