Looking at the increase in gun violence in Toronto

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Virtually no corner of Toronto has been untouched by gun related violence this summer, with over 40 shootings that have  occurred since June 21 of this year, resulting in over 30 deaths.

There have been several reports of separate shootings as recently as this week.

Fatal shootings alone are up nearly 40 per cent  from this time last year. While shootings aren’t atypical especially during the summer months, data has shown that the number of shooting related deaths has been increasing each year.

One of the most brazen and seemingly unmotivated attacks this summer was the Danforth shooting on July 22, where the gunman killed two people and injured 13 others in Toronto’s Greektown.

The shootings feel personal to residents of Toronto and Southern Ontario, because they have occurred so close to home, but the harm towards the general public is very low. Despite the increase in gun violence, Toronto is still one of the safest cities in North America, for its size.

Another high profile incident includes the death of Smoke Dawg and Koba Prime amongst one other victim in a drive-by shooting in late June. When asked to speak on the incident, Mayor John Tory linked the shooting to gang violence, but the Toronto police have declined to confirm whether or not this is true.

Another notable incident includes the shooting of two young girls, aged five and nine, who were shot on a playground in Scarborough in June. Their conditions were non-life threatening. It is suspected that the shots were meant for a man who was at the park at the time and that the girls were caught in the crossfire.

While not all of the shootings are confirmed to be gang related, it is suspected that some of them are linked to territorial rival gang violence.

Mayor John Tory has announced a $15 million plan to address gun crime in the city, wherein additional officers will be placed in certain neighbourhoods during dark hours for the remainder of the summer. The city has also hired around 170 new officers for the communities.

Mayor John Tory, premier Doug Ford and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have also met to discuss further gun control methods. Trudeau has offered his support to the city, while Ford has allegedly ignored the request for the funding of preventative community based programs, and is against the proposed handgun ban.

If you ask me, Tory and Ford’s method for gun control are not the best methods of addressing the issue. Expanding police powers seems more harmful than beneficial. Militarization of the city only works to scare the general public and incite further urban violence, as perpetrators will be on their guard.

The gun control methods that have been presented do not address the root cause of the violence. The first priority for the city should be to pinpoint if the gun violence is largely caused by gang wars, and if so, they should work to improve police-community relations, and relations within the communities themselves.

This can happen through mobilization and education of high-risk communities. Anti-gun violence organizations, such as Toronto’s Think 2wice organization which promote “change from within” by funding intervention projects could be the key to educating communities.

The shootings feel personal to residents of Toronto and Southern Ontario, because they have occurred so close to home, but the harm towards the general public is very low. Despite the increase in gun violence, Toronto is still one of the safest cities in North America, for its size.


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