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Politicians love to propose “banning” handguns in Toronto — and across Canada — to combat violent, urban, gun crime.

The problem is that while calling for a ban is easy and popular — since most Canadians don’t own handguns it’s not surprising most support “banning” them — it’s also impractical, simplistic and counter-productive.

Counter-productive because the inevitable political fight over imposing a handgun ban — which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is considering, supported by municipal politicians in Toronto and Montreal — distracts from real-world solutions.

Those include:

Bolstering police forces when it comes to fighting urban gun crime — as Ontario Premier Doug Ford has done by earmarking $25 million to Toronto police for that purpose.

Tougher penalties for gun crime, including mandatory minimum sentences.

Reinstating a workable form of street checks (aka “carding”), because gathering intelligence from the public is one of the most important functions of policing.

Improving mental health care and funding effective programs that offer young people living in urban slums a realistic opportunity for a better life.

As for a handgun ban, we agree with the previous position of Toronto Mayor John Tory, who now advocates, along with council, banning handguns and the sale of bullets in the city.

But in the 2014 mayoral race, Tory said “calling for a ban isn’t leadership. It’s an empty gesture”, because what proponents of a ban — in that case then mayoral contender Olivia Chow — don’t “seem to understand is that criminals and gang members don’t obey the law.”

Tory says he’s changed his mind because police now say 50% of the guns used in urban street crime originated with illegal sales by domestic, legal gun owners, as opposed to being smuggled in from the U.S. — a claim legal gun owners hotly dispute.

But whatever the number, surely the solution to that is to crack down on anyone buying handguns legally and selling them illegally, not banning handguns.

Tory and council had the right idea last month when they called, among other initiatives, for the Trudeau government to impose tougher, mandatory, minimum sentences for gun traffickers and for Ford to amend provincial legislation to enable the city to evict gang members involved in gun violence and drug trafficking from social housing.

That would be a start.