This year has been a bad year for the city of Toronto as the number of gun murders keeps climbing. Most gun murders in Toronto have been gang related, but just today there was a deadly shooting spree a few blocks from my house at a shopping mall on one of the busiest shopping days of the year. The shooting spree happened just a few hours ago. Initial police reports would seem to indicate that the victims are random shoppers and not targeted or gang related. One girl has died and 6 others have been wounded from the shots. The girl was standing in the entrance of a foot locker store, another person was shot at the Delta Chelsea hotel, another at Pizza Pizza, and another person was shot at the Red Lobster restaurant. Two people have been arrested and one weapon has been seized by police.
Toronto is still a very safe city, but with the number of gun homicides increasing, could Toronto be headed in the direction of the gun problems we see in American cities? Or was this year just a fluke? In 1999, Toronto had a homicide rate of 1.3 people for every 100,000. This was extremely low compared to similar sized American cities, with Chicago at a rate of 23.3, and Washington DC ranking in 1st with a rate of 45.5 homicides for every 100,000 people.
But in 1999, out of Toronto’s 49 murders, only 19 of them were shootings. In 2005, Toronto has had 78 murders so far, with 52 being gun related. In 1998, Toronto had 56 homicides with a mere 13 being gun related. As part of their election platform, the Liberals have promised to ban all handguns in Canada other than for Law Enforcement personnel. I don’t know if this will help Toronto’s gun problem much, because most of the guns that are used in crimes are illegal anyway, so it may be difficult to ban them if they aren’t registered in the first place.