Toronto Mayor John Tory says there is “no easy answer” or magic wand to reduce gun violence in the country’s largest city, which has claimed 22 lives so far in 2018.
Tory, who was filling in as the morning show host on radio station CFRB, told listeners that shootings in Toronto involve “a very complicated network of gangs in the city.”
Eleven people have been shot in the city since Friday, with the latest occurring early Tuesday when a man was shot in an apparent drive-by shooting near the downtown core. The victim suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries.
Two people from the city’s rap scene were killed in a brazen daylight shooting on Queen Street on Saturday in the entertainment district — Jahvante Smart, 21, also known as Smoke Dawg, and Ernest Modekwe, 28, both of Toronto. A woman who was also shot is expected to recover.
Another four people were injured by gunshots late Sunday in the city’s Kensington Market area.
Toronto has recorded 22 people killed by guns so far this year out of a total of 51 homicides — a number inflated by a deadly van attack that killed 10 people in one day. There were 27 homicides at this point in 2017.
Tory said statistics indicate that more than 75 per cent of the shootings in Toronto are in some way gang-related.
“Who were the people that pulled the trigger on Queen Street? Were they the boy scouts? Who goes by in a car and fires a gun out the window at people on the sidewalk?”
Tory said while there is “no simple explanation,” the city is taking some action, such as hiring 170 new police officers.
Meantime, the chief of police told local TV station CP24 that more than 90 per cent of gun violence in the city is linked to gangs.
“The vast majority of gunplay in the city can be associated with a street gang,” Mark Saunders said. “Having said that, being surgical, being strategic and being focused with that gang subculture is a huge concern of mine. We’ve got a plan in play to look after it over the course of the summer.”
He said the plan involves “knowing who the players are” rather than saturating neighbourhoods with a police presence.
Saunders noted that just because a shooting is gang-related, it doesn’t mean the victims are members of gangs.
The mayor added he is “delighted” that new Ontario premier Doug Ford has indicated a keen interest in tackling the problem and that federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale wants to do the right thing on gun control.
“It is still far too easy for people to buy multiple guns in our city, in our country, perfectly lawfully and never really have to account again for where those guns are or whose hands they have fallen into,” Tory said.
“Nobody has a magic wand, If it was that evident as to exactly what needed to be done, then I guess somebody would have done it by now.”
Tory also reiterated his earlier call for people charged with gun offences to not be granted bail if they have a previous conviction.
“They’re just laughing at us as they get out on the streets and they do their mayhem all over again.”
The Canadian Press