Everyone who has thought about the issue knows that a complete ban on hand guns will not end gang violence in Toronto and in other large Canadian cities.

But it’s an essential step to take.

Both Toronto Mayor David Miller and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty are calling for such a ban. They have the support of NDP leader Jack Layton who wants the cities to have the power to enact such a ban.

Access to legal hand guns is already tightly controlled in Canada and such weapons must be registered. Most of the hand guns used on the streets of Toronto enter the country illegally from south of the border. Others, however, are stolen or acquired from legal gun owners.

A hand gun ban would send a strong signal that such weapons will not be tolerated and have no place in our cities. Who, apart from the police, has any conceivable legitimate need for such weapons?

For some unaccountable reason, Stephane Dion does not support a ban on hand guns, saying that his priority is to outlaw assault weapons.

The man in the way on this is Stephen Harper whose party panders to the gun lobby. His government decided it would no longer enforce the long gun registry even though it was the law of the land. Harper believes he has the right to pick and choose which laws need to be enforced.

His line is that we should increase the criminal sentences for those who wield guns, and he insists that the other parties are soft on criminals.

After a gun has been fired, he’s a tough guy. When it comes to keeping guns off the street and addressing the social ills that contribute to gang violence he’s AWOL.

(Despite the recent spate of daylight shootings, the number of homicides in Toronto is lower this year than it was up to this point last year.)