GOLDSTEIN: Carding Works, Banning Handguns Won’t Banning handguns in Toronto, the flavour of the month at City Hall, won’t reduce rising gun crime. Bringing back carding, aka police street checks, would. The statistics on increasing gun crime since carding was abandoned are staring us in the face. But no one in authority, not Premier Doug Ford, Toronto Mayor John Tory, city council, or Police Chief Mark Saunders wants to bring back carding for fear of being accused of racism. From researching Toronto Police crime data, and drawing on the previous work of the Toronto Sun’s Chris Doucette, the statistics are undeniable. In 2013, when police did 196,907 street checks — while carding was increasingly under attack by its critics — there were 22 gun murders in Toronto. In 2018, when police did none, there were 51, an increase of 132%. With a month to go this year, there have been 38 gun murders, lower than in 2018, but still 73% higher than in 2013. But homicide rates can vary significantly from year to year based on a number of factors. The full impact of ending carding can be seen in the dramatically increasing number of gun incidents and victims (those who are killed, injured, uninjured or where their fate is unknown). In 2014, as carding was coming to an end, there were 177 gun occurrences and 242 victims. Last year, with no carding, there were 428 occurrences and 613 victims, meaning occurrences were up by 142% compared to 2014 and the number of victims increased 153%. With a month to go this year, the numbers are already higher than 2018, with 445 occurrences and 675 victims, meaning occurrences are up 151% compared to 2014 and victims up 179%. These figures illustrate Toronto’s new normal — escalating gun violence well above historical norms. As retired staff-inspector Mike Earl, who headed Toronto’s Holdup Squad, told Doucette last year: “The city is in crisis and I don’t understand how anyone can deny it. The bad guys are running the streets. The provincial regulations (on carding) need to be revised. The longer they wait, the worse it’s going to be … “A handgun ban won’t accomplish anything. The people who are shooting each other in Toronto are using guns that are already illegal. “A handgun ban just discriminates against law-abiding citizens instead of targeting criminals.” Many frontline officers say that in addition to banning carding, the dismantling of the Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy (TAVIS) — the force’s gangs and guns squad — in early 2017, after it was criticized for excessive carding, further contributed to gun violence. None of this is surprising. Intelligence gathering to prevent crimes before they occur is a fundamental job of policing. Carding — stopping, questioning and recording information from people not charged with any crimes, but who police believed might have information about criminal activity — was a fundamental way for police to gather intelligence. It was scrapped because of complaints — some legitimate — that it was being used excessively and indiscriminately, unfairly targeting blacks. New regulations to govern carding were introduced by then-premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government in 2016, but even the judge who later reviewed them said they were impractical — written for lawyers, not police or the public. There’s no one solution to rising gun crime. But arguing a municipal ban on handguns will help, when criminals aren’t deterred by the Criminal Code, is absurd. So is ignoring the elephant in the room — that scrapping carding contributed to Toronto’s rising gun violence.