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.
Banning handguns (already all-but-illegal) will not work. What may work is reviewing Canada’s immigration policies. Specifically, before allowing males under the age of 40 to enter the country, do a thorough background check for criminal records, education and employment history, press reports from the applicant’s home country–anything that may uncover a history of gang affiliation or violent crime. Our “let ’em all in” policy has clearly led to disaster.
I like how you failed to mention the early 90’s, in which Toronto had a record number of murders. In 1991, Toronto set the record for highest number of murders, with 88. Just 8 years later, this number had decreased to 49. Lets face it, the homicide rate will go up and down. In 2005, Toronto will probably face about 80 murders. While much higher than last year, this is far safer than all American cities, and its also safer than most Canadian cities as well. You’d think that Toronto was an urban ghetto on the levels of Detroit and Chicago from the way the media spins these stories.
Reply to anonymous: I think I very clearly indicated that Toronto is far safer than American cities. The point of the article was to show that the number of homicides involving guns has increased substantially.
Even in 1991, there were 89 murders, but only 38 involved guns, so that’s only 42.7%. Every year since 1991, the percentage of homicides with guns has been consistently less than 50% except in 2001 when it was 56%. It was as low as 21% in 1995.
I agree that the number of murders will fluctuate, but this year has seen quite an increase in number of homicides with guns.
Sandalphon – I’m not sure if adjusting the immigration policies will work either. I don’t have any statistics, but I believe a lot of the murders that involved gangs in Toronto involved kids who were born in Canada but joined gangs in high school.
Those are staggering numbers you’ve noted at the end of your post, Jim. I do hope municipal leaders are able to find a way to curb this escalating violence. Edmonton is also experiencing a proliferation of murders this year. Thirty-nine is the number of murders in Edmonton’ I’m not sure how many of those are gun-related — but that number is staggering just the same. Let’s hope 2005 is an anomaly.
The Boxing Day shootings in Toronto really has left me with an empty feeling in my stomach. I can’t believe how easy it is for people to carry weapons of some kind. Back in Hamilton, This past November a gang rushed into Glendale High School and attacked the senior boys basketball team with michetti’s (spelled wrong sorry) Two boys had stab wounds from the ordeal. It doesn’t matter where the attacks are coming from. Toronto, Detroit, Chicago or any other part of the world. Something has to be done. I saw on the news the other night that the Liberal will deal with severe laws for people caught with a gun. My only question is…. They have been in power for 13 years and now they are going to look into it? In my opinion, which may look plain & simple but I believe anyone not issued to carry a firearm and is caught automatically goes to jail and be brought up on stiff charges. A long period of Jail time. This situation is getting out of hand and someone somehow needs to bring order back to our Nations. Plus someone did mention who we let into our country. A very good point.
P.S. Jim, I like reading your inserts keep up the good work.
ibrett, I like reading your comments. You have a gift for writing almost like poetry.