Arrest may pull trigger on U of T gun club Member faces 74 charges: Alleged to have AK-47 and 32,000 rounds of ammunition
A senior member of the University of Toronto's gun club is being held in custody on 74 weapons charges, including illegal possession of an AK-47 and other machine guns. Michael Brassard, a long-time range officer and safety-course instructor with the Hart House Revolver Club and the University of Toronto Rifle Association, was denied bail after he was picked up by Toronto police on Oct. 8 following a disturbance at a subway station. Mr. Brassard was allegedly carrying a concealed and loaded 45-calibre military handgun, Detective Gordon Scott said. A search of Mr. Brassard's Toronto home uncovered 32,000 rounds of ammunition and 54 prohibited firearms, including Second World War military and automatic weapons with the capacity to hold up to 40 rounds. "I don't think the police department owns 32,000 rounds of ammunition," Det. Scott said.
Mr. Brassard, 47 and unemployed, is to appear in provincial court tomorrow to appeal the bail decision. He and his lawyer could not be reached for comment, but Margaret Hancock, Warden of Hart House, said Mr. Brassard's record at the campus firing range was unblemished. The allegations have prompted calls for the university to close the firing range and revisit its support of the rifle and revolver clubs. "We'll ask the question: Is it something, in this day and age, that the university community wants?" Ms. Hancock said. Pending the outcome of the charges, she has revoked Mr. Brassard's privileges at the firing range and stripped him of his duties of range officer and safety-course instructor. It was unknown whether Mr. Brassard is an alumni of the university.
Founded in 1919, the rifle association is as old as Hart House, donated to the university by Vincent Massey. The club evolved after the Second World War, with its members also taking up permanent residence in the imposing neo-Gothic building. The firing range, tucked away in the basement, is open to members on Monday and Wednesday evenings. Inspired by a similar facility at Oxford University in England, Hart House was built to accommodate every conceivable student activity. Until 1972, it was males only, but today it stands as the cultural heart of the university. Bruce Kidd, dean of the faculty of physical education and health, says the firing range reflects the values of the early 20th century and has no place on a modern university campus. Dr. Kidd was a member of a Hart House advisory committee that recommended the firing range be closed. It called for the closure in response to the killing of 14 women at the École Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989, telling the university president the use of guns on campus was inappropriate. Dr. Kidd says the recommendation was never implemented. "The firing range was constructed during the First World War, at a time when educated masculinity included the ability to handle firearms in the context of the Great War. We've moved on, at least, I hope we have," Dr. Kidd said. The university has not set date for a review of the status of the gun clubs, Ms. Hancock said, adding: "Hart House is a place for debate, discussion and dissent."