More than 1,000 dead or injured by bullets in four years

TORONTO | The recent outbreak of violence by firearms may make Montreal shudder, this scourge is still far from having reached the vertiginous scale it knows in Toronto, where we deplore more than 1,000 dead and injured by gunshots since 2018.

More than 1,000 dead or injured by bullets in four years

TORONTO | The recent outbreak of violence by firearms may make Montreal shudder, this scourge is still far from having reached the vertiginous scale it knows in Toronto, where we deplore more than 1,000 dead and injured by gunshots since 2018. Foray into Canada's shootout capital.

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We are at the intersection of Jane Street and Finch Avenue, in the neighborhood that has one of the highest crime rates in the city.

Passers-by walk quickly, looking worried, while the atmosphere is tense. Sinister-looking residents gathered in an alley nearby watch them and seem on the alert.

Most have one hand resting on their hip, under their coat or hoodie, almost as if ready to draw at the slightest threat.

During our few days in Toronto, 13 incidents involving a firearm occurred, resulting in five injuries: attempted murders, hijackings at gunpoint, home invasions and multiple shooting incidents.

Constant worry

“There is this constant worry that a shooting may break out. Even people who have nothing to blame themselves fear they will be the next victim, ”said Shauna Brown, whose son lost his life five years ago. “Unfortunately, we have become used to this reality, many are afraid to go out or even to be hit in their own home. »

About a hundred meters from this intersection, we notice on the ground a few doggies damaged by the weather, deposited to mark the death of a 12-year-old young man "who had his life ahead of him", hit by a stray bullet in 2020.

“Memorials like this are all over the GTA. Our youth are so affected by violence, ”drops Pastor Andrew King, who tries to contribute in ways other than prayers.

In the Ontario capital, 200 people have been fatally shot and 816 have been injured since 2018.

This is a reality that seems far from that of Montreal, where the count is drastically lower, with 55 gunshot deaths during the same period. However, it is impossible to know precisely the number of injured.

However, the stakeholders met by Le Journal in Toronto warn not to let the situation get out of control before taking action.

“It is a real epidemic. And it will get worse if nothing concrete is done. I am disgusted and frustrated that this crisis of violence is being allowed to continue, as if it were not serious, ”denounces Shauna Brown.

And she is not the only one to think that the repressive approach of the authorities is not having any real impact.

No solution yet

“Quebec should not follow the path that Toronto has taken. We never found a real solution for gun violence,” said Jasmine Ramze Rezaee, director of communications for YWCA Toronto, who has studied the impact of gun violence.

“The gun culture, derived from the American model and which has been decimating the city of Toronto for a decade, is now upon us. The danger facing the public is serious and imminent,” wrote Judge Dennis Galiatsatos in a decision in 2021.

Torontonians are proposing a “multi-pronged” prevention strategy to tackle “the source of gun violence” and not just rely on police forces to stem the problem.

However, they are not calling for the defunding of the police, as many have called for in recent years. Note that the Toronto police refused the Journal's interview request.

Not just the police

“The police are only part of the solution. But we must also invest in the community, in social programs, in education, in poverty, in accessibility to housing. It's like a puzzle, and it takes all the pieces out of us," said Louis March, an activist behind the Zero Gun Violence Movement.

“Someone’s quality of life is going to be influenced by their zip code. And it happens that these same disadvantaged neighborhoods are those with the highest crime, ”he continues.

The same observations can be made in Montreal, Rivière-des-Prairies and Montreal-North, in particular, a sign that we should take inspiration from Toronto to avoid mistakes and do better.

A PLAGUE SINCE 2005

The figures are unequivocal, the streets of Montreal are much safer than those of Toronto. Since 2018, there have been three times more shootings in the Queen City and four times more deaths than here. The phenomenon is not new, as gun violence has wreaked havoc there since 2005, which had been dubbed "The year of the gun". But good luck getting up-to-date stats in Montreal. According to our information, the system is so outdated that some data must be compiled by hand. The Toronto Police, on the other hand, has a very accessible website that is updated almost daily. It can be viewed here: data.torontopolice.on.ca/pages/shootings

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