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Gun Violence is On the Rise in Toronto

Canada is well-known for having much lower rates of gun violence than the United States, thanks to tighter gun control laws among other factors. However, in the past several years, the city of Toronto has seen more gun violence than ever before, according to Toronto police. Last year, 760 people were shot in the city, and 44 of these people died from their wounds, which is triple the number of shooting victims in 2014. Understandably, city officials are concerned by these statistics, and are scrambling to determine what caused the massive spike in gun violence and how best to address it. 

Multiple theories have been proposed to explain the recent surge. Canada does not have the equivalent of the American second amendment in its constitution, making it much easier for the government to enact laws restricting access to firearms. Between 2006 and 2015, the country’s Conservative Party controlled the government, and during that time the government dismantled a national gun registry, which until 2012 required gun owners to sign a list indicating that they owned a firearm. After the dismantling of this registry, the country underwent a spike in imports of firearms from the U.S., letting nearly 2 million guns into the country. The Conservative government made it much easier to import restricted weapons, like semi-automatic rifles and handguns, meaning that there are not only many more guns in the country but that they are more dangerous as well.

According to Wendy Cukier, the head of the Toronto-based Coalition for Gun Control, when gun control laws were strengthened in Canada a reduction of incidents of gun violence—particularly suicideoccurred, and when the Conservative government dismantled these restrictions, gun violence rose again. The removal of the national gun registry coincided with a 40% increase in rates of gun violence throughout the country, according to Canada’s government statistics agency.

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Others blame rising economic inequality for the recent violence. Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders has blamed the gun violence on gang activity, which he thinks is on the rise due to the city’s growing numbers of poor people, who are most likely to be involved in the illegal drug trade. While Toronto is currently a very economically successful city, much of the city’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of very few, leaving much of the city’s population without the opportunities afforded to middle- and upper-class citizens of the country. People with fewer life opportunities are more likely to resort to drugs or gang activity, creating a drain on the society at large.

While the liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was recently re-elected, the Trudeau government has failed to institute gun control measures for fear of alienating rural citizens who are more likely to be gun owners. However, given the severity of the increase in gun violence across the nation, this is likely to change soon. In fact, the Trudeau government plans to introduce legislation next year for a ban on military-style assault rifles and a plan to buy assault rifles back from cooperating gun owners. As a parliament containing a majority of liberal members was recently elected, such a law is likely to pass fairly quickly.

Gun

American Firearm Ownership Increases to at Least 423 Million

A recent industry report has revealed the number of firearms that were either imported or produced for private ownership in America between 1986 and 2018 has reached nearly 423 million.

However this is only a conservative estimate as firearms produced before 1986 have not been included while the amount of guns that have been removed from circulation have also not been taken into consideration.

However the report from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade group for the firearms industry, has discovered that more than 17.7 million modern sporting rifles – a term meaning any semi-automatic rifle including the AR-15 – were imported or produced between 1990 and 2017.

In a press release relating to the study, President of the foundation Joe Bartozzi commented:

“These figures show the industry that America has a strong desire to continue to purchase firearms for lawful purposes. The Modern Sporting Rifle continues to be the most popular centerfire rifle sold in America today and is clearly a commonly owned firearm with more than 17 million in legal ownership today. The continued popularity of handguns demonstrates a strong interest by Americans to protect themselves and their homes, and to participate in the recreational shooting sports.”

There have been many calls to place a ban on owning guns as well as stopping the sale of these kinds of “assault weapons,” though it is clear from this report that these kinds of guns are common throughout the United States. Only two years ago, over half of all rifles produced in America were modern sporting rifles.

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Yet the production of domestic weapons has gone up and down dramatically in recent years. Although there was a dip in the amount of firearms being produced in 2010 there has been a constant growth in the production of guns since 2005.

However from 2014 the numbers dropped again, this time by 15 percent, before seeing a small increase over the next few years, before seeing a drop of more than 25 percent in 2017.

The interim estimate for 2018 shows that this drop in production is set to continue, with the industry producing around 7.6 million firearms which is slightly lower than the year before.

Cultural and political events, both big and small, have been a major influence in the way the market fluctuates with the amount of gun sales varying depending not only on the mood of the nation, but also whether the country is in an election year.

A report from the Connecticut Post highlighted the fact that the number of handguns that were sold rose slightly during the period directly after the Sandy Hook Elementary School’s 2012 shooting, while sales saw a significant increase just before the 2016 presidential election.

According to the Pew Research Center, an estimated 30 percent of American adults now own a gun while 11 percent live in a property where at least one other adult has a firearm. It is also claimed that the biggest group to own guns are white men with nearly 50 percent confirming they own at least one. However only a quarter of non-white men and white women own guns.

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The report could not have come at a better time as Congress has promised to put $25 million towards federal research into the country’s gun violence, the first time that the government has agreed to look in to the problem in over twenty years.

As part of a $1.4 trillion spending spree the research has come at a time when America is still trying to come to terms with the growing number of mass shootings, especially around schools.

The House Appropriations Committee managed to gain the funding and the chair, Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey, confirmed in a statement:

“With this investment, the best public health researchers in the country will be put to work to identify ways to reduce injury and death due to firearms.”

However, although the research funding has been agreed by the House it still needs to be approved by the Senate before finally making its way in front of President Trump to be signed off.

The news has brought praise from many sections of America including the American Public Health Association with executive director Dr. Georges C. Benjamin acknowledging the funding, saying:

“We applaud Congress for finally providing the critical funding we have been requesting. This will support public health research that is essential to answering questions about the best ways to reduce the morbidity and mortality from firearms in the United States.”

Meanwhile Dr. Robert McLean, president of the American College of Physicians has also expressed his delight commenting that “the alarming rate of injuries and deaths related to firearms brings to light the glaring lack of research and data. For over twenty years, we’ve desperately needed up-to-date research about firearm violence and intervention and prevention strategies to reduce physical as well as emotional injuries caused by firearms.”

Football

Sport Teams United In Grief After Shooting

Supporters at a high school football game in New Jersey were forced to run to safety when gunfire broke out.

The match between home team the Pleasantville Greyhounds and the Camden Panthers had attracted a good family crowd when shots were heard at 8:30pm on a friendly Friday evening, an hour outside of Philadelphia.

And while a 27-year-old man was left needing surgery he was confirmed to be in a stable condition. However, the police found a gun in his possession and he now faces weapons charges over the incident.

A 15-year-old boy was also treated in hospital for a graze wound.

Unfortunately 10-year-old Micah Tennant was also caught in the crossfire and sadly passed away from his injuries in hospital just 5 days later.

Police have already arrested and charged five suspects in connection with the shooting with Alvin Wyatts being charged with murder, attempted murder, unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.

Wyatt’s accomplices – Tyrell Dorn, 28; Vance Golden, 26; Michael Mack, 27 and Shahid Dixon, 27 – have also faced charges of unlawful possession of a weapon and certain persons not to possess a weapon.

Damon G. Tyner, Atlantic County Prosecutor announced:

‘We would like to express our sincere condolences to the Tennant family on the tragic passing of Micah. Words at this time seem so insufficient to portray the anger and outrage that our community feels regarding his loss. However, his spirit will live on in so many people.’

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A ‘devastated’ Gov. Phil Murphy also released a statement announcing:

‘No child deserves to have their promising life cut short, especially by indiscriminate and senseless gun violence. No parent deserves to bury their child. We will hold [Michah’s] memory close, and we will remember his name, as we continue our work to make New Jersey safer for all of our families.’

A Facebook post by the Pleasantville Police Department confirmed they were sending their ‘deepest sympathy’ and ‘strongest possible support’ to Micah’s family.

In response to the postponed game, the neutral ground of The Philadelphia Eagles hosted the suspended playoff match.

And only hours after young Micah lost his life, Lincoln Financial Field Stadium held a moment’s silence in his memory, with both teams locking arms and some athletes wearing the number 10 out of respect on their uniforms.

The stadium’s announcer informed spectators ‘our thoughts are with his family, his loved ones and all impacted by this news. Today, we join Micah’s family and this community to demonstrate that acts of violence do not win’.

The scoreboard then had 4:58 entered to show how much time had been left of the game before it was brutally cut short, a reminder that it does not matter where you are, no venue is safe from gun violence.

A stark difference to the words the young players often hear from their coaches. With sport being used as a tool to keep teens away from gang culture, Camden’s coach Dwayne Savage revealed how ‘we always preach to our guys, that’s our safe haven. We forget about all our problems on the football field.’

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A GoFundMe page was created to raise much needed medical funds for ‘Dew’ as he was affectionately known and has already had over $30,000 donated. However the news of his death has seen money continue to pour in.

CNN affiliate WPVI appears to show the chaos in the aftermath of the shooting, with both athletes and attendees running away from the gunfire. As well as diving under bleachers and hopping over fences, some people were seen lying down on the field.

Sadly with an apparent increase in gun crime this incident is not a rarity and Micah Tennat was not the only casualty of gun violence this week.

In November we have seen two people killed and three injured at a high school in California; four people died and a further six were wounded at a party, also in California while three people – possibly including the gunman – were killed at a Walmart in Oklahoma.

These incidents occurred within 5 days of each other leaving many Americans asking what is being done about gun violence.

So far there has been 370 mass shootings in the U.S. so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. A mass shooting is classed as an ‘incident in which four or more people, not including the shooter, were shot but not necessarily killed’.

This is equal to around eight mass shootings per week.

However mass shootings only equate to a small percentage of death by shooting. In 2017 40,000 people died as a result of a shooting incident – including suicide – which works out to an average of 109 per day.

That’s more than four people being killed by guns every hour.