International News Desk – At Home: Beretta semi-automatic handgun to be raffled off as door prize – In Foreign News: Italy’s new stalking law brings flurry of arrests

International News Desk – At Home: Beretta semi-automatic handgun to be raffled off as door prize – In Foreign News: Italy’s new stalking law brings flurry of arrests

At Home: Beretta semi-automatic handgun to be raffled off as door prize

In spite of a recent rash of gun violence in Canada, the Canadian Shooting Sports Association (CSSA) plans to hand away a semi-automatic weapon as a raffle prize at their upcoming annual meeting and dinner in Mississauga.

For a mere $20 per ticket, attendees will have the chance to win a ?special ?Canadian Edition? of the Beretta, ?the most advanced expression of technological and esthetic feature in a semi-automatic handgun,?? as the Toronto Star reports.

The guest speaker at the CSSA dinner will be Garry Breitkreuz, a Saskatchewan Conservative MP (Yorkton-Melville). Breitkreuz has introduced a private member’s bill to ?abolish Canada’s controversial long-gun registry and relax rules on prohibited and restricted weapons.?

The raffle of a semi-automatic weapon has outraged those struggling to reduce the number of weapons on Canada’s streets.

?We have got to be finding ways to get (handguns) off the streets, not handing them out as prizes,? Liberal MP Mark Holland (Ajax-Pickering) told reporters.

?It really is an insult to a community that has seen so much gun violence and where so many people have been killed . . . to give that away as a (raffle) prize.?

Although the Star could not reach either the CSSA or Breitkreuz for comment, reaction from the office of Toronto Mayor David Miller was clear, with a spokesperson calling the handgun raffle ?outrageous, inappropriate and insensitive, frankly, to all the families of victims of gun crime in Toronto and the GTA.?

Disbelief at the move is widespread, including at Montreal’s Dawson College, the site of a rampage in 2006 by a gunman armed with a Beretta semi-automatic carbine. NDP Leader Jack Layton (Toronto-Danforth) expressed dismay as well, wondering how anyone could make the ?callous? decision to raffle off a weapon, especially in an area like the GTA that saw more than 60 gun-related deaths in 2008.

In Foreign News: Italy’s new stalking law brings flurry of arrests

Until recently, residents of Italy had little legal protection against stalkers who threatened, verbally abused, or persecuted them. But as Corriere della Sera reports, a new stalking law has brought some relief, with 40 arrests since the end of February and a peak of a dozen arrests over two days in mid-March.

The new law came into effect on February 25 and the first related arrest was on March 2, when a 50-year-old Milan resident was charged. The man had allegedly served a ?reluctant former girlfriend tea laced with the innards of a dead mouse.?

Arrests have come all across the country, including Trento, Sanremo, Arezzo, Sassari, Bologna, and several other cities. On March 4, a 60-year-old Sorrento man was arrested and charged with obsessively pursuing a woman to the point that he slashed her with a razor blade.

A spate of stalking-related arrests has followed, though numbers from Italy’s national statistics institute (ISTAT) reveal that it should come as no surprise. According to Corriere della Sera, ISTAT reports that ?from 2002 to 2007, as many as two Italians in ten, most of them women, fell victim to stalkers.?

Although the vast majority of stalkers are former partners, the new law covers a broad array of offences including ?persecution, harassment, offensive language and threats . . . whether the violence is perpetrated physically or by telephone, text messages included.?

Mara Carfagna, the minister for equal opportunities, was a prime force behind the new law. She has also announced a new Carabinieri unit that will focus exclusively on stalking.

Many such offences are remarkably evident, according to ISTAT statistics, with ?39% of offences committed by partners or former partners? coming with plenty of forewarning, including repeated death threats.

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