[JURIST] Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin [official website] on Thursday proposed a sweeping national ban on handguns [press release] in an effort to combat escalating gun violence in Canadian cities. In Toronto, there have been 50 homicides from gunfire this year, a new record [CTV report] for the city and almost twice the number from 2004. Under Martin's proposed Canada Handgun Ban [backgrounder] set forth as part of the governing Liberal Party [political party website] campaign for the January 23 federal election [CBC backgrounder], federal legislation would be introduced to enable provinces and territories to prohibit handguns within their borders, tougher penalties would be introduced for gun crimes, and steps would be taken to eliminate the supply of illegal handguns. Under current law [Canadian Criminal Code section on firearms], a handgun license can only be obtained for a weapon that is part of a collection, used in target-shooting competitions or for target practice. Critics say Martin's expanded ban would have no effect on dealing with illegal guns and is just pandering to "law and order types." Others say that Martin's proposal to double the mandatory minimum sentence for serious gun crimes will also be ineffective at ending violence, saying that an increase would result in over-burdening the court system and putting more minority youth in jail. CTV.ca has more.