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Want to know the definition of a stupid elected official?

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Then read this:

Mayor David Miller wants to close recreational shooting ranges in Toronto, along with giving the city power to block gun manufacturers and wholesalers from opening new plants or warehouses.

"Nobody can deny that hobby directly results in people being shot and killed on the streets of our city," Miller said of sport shooting yesterday, amid debate on a possible gun bylaw.

Canadian Olympic pistol shooter and downtown resident Avianna Chao begs to differ. She says that if Miller gets his way, it could mean an end to her sport – and it won't make the streets one bit safer.

Miller wants to terminate leases with two gun clubs that have shooting ranges on city property, one at Union Station, the other at Don Montgomery community centre.

Chao, who will head to Beijing this summer to compete for Canada at the Olympics, began shooting at Don Montgomery and now trains primarily at the Union range.

"When I heard about this city proposal today it just absolutely knocked the wind out of me," Chao said yesterday.

The gun debate erupted on a day when provincial Attorney General Chris Bentley and Community Safety Minister Rick Bartolucci were writing to their federal counterparts, seeking co-operation on curbing firearm violence.

"As you know, the people of Ontario continue to have serious concerns about the threat posed by guns and gun-related crime in our communities, particularly on the streets of downtown Toronto," Bentley and Bartolucci wrote in a five-page letter to federal Attorney General Rob Nicholson and Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day.

They asked for a three-point plan to limit gun violence by:

* Making sure federal firearms marking regulations are stringently followed so guns can be traced.

* Appointing federal prosecutors to Ontario's guns and gangs task force.

* Closing legal loopholes that let gun parts be brought into Canada.

At the same time, city staff released a report calling for a bylaw that would allow the city to restrict or prohibit the making and wholesaling of firearms in Toronto.

Only police and the military should be allowed to operate firing ranges, the report says, calling for an end to the gun club leases.

Recommendations would apply to all firearms, including rifles and shotguns. But in a scrum with reporters, Miller directed most of his comments toward handguns.

"After John O'Keefe's tragic killing, I don't think there's any defence for sports shooters any more," Miller said, referring to the man shot in January by a stray bullet. The gun was legally owned by the man charged in the killing.

"It's a hobby that creates danger to others. Guns are stolen routinely from so-called legal owners. It's time that we got those guns out of Toronto," he said.

"Do we as a society value safety, or do we value a hobby that creates danger?" he asked. "Nobody can deny that hobby directly results in people being shot and killed on the streets of our city. Those are the facts. And they're provable again and again and again."

Existing makers and wholesalers of firearms would not be affected by any new bylaw. Nor would retailers, as they're governed by federal law. The staff report says as many as 40 per cent of handguns seized by Toronto police were legally purchased but stolen from their owners.

But Chao said shutting down shooting ranges and banning manufacturers has nothing to do with safety. "Gang members don't visit these (shooting) clubs," she said.

"You have to show your licence and all the paperwork. This has nothing to do with gang violence."

Her own guns are safely stored and locked, she said. She's never had a gun stolen. "Anyone should be able to see through this," she said, "that this is the politicians just trying to say they did something, even though it will have no impact on actual gun violence. ... Why don't they go after the gangs? Why don't they go after the illegal trafficking of firearms?"

Chao said Canadian shooters are already handicapped compared with competitors because other countries let shooters train full time. If ranges are shut down, she said, "I don't know how we're expected to compete internationally."

Steven Spinney, firearms safety officer for the Scarborough Rifle Club, was also stunned by the news.

"It doesn't make any sense to be zeroing in on a gun club," he said. "We're an Olympic sport ... I'm not sure how shutting us down would help to cut the gun crime."

Participants are required to take a safety course and the club uses only single-shot rifles.

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