It's an 'OK Corral mentality'
OPP boss decries gun violence against innocents
By MICHELE MANDEL (external - login to view), SUN MEDIA
Last Updated: 2nd November 2008, 2:34am
As we bade goodbye yesterday to yet another innocent victim of random gun violence, this bullet-riddled city has finally declared enough is enough.
No more young girls to gasp their last breaths on our sidewalks of pooling crimson blood; no more pub goers gunned down on their way home to their young sons; no more grocers felled as they stock their stands with oranges on a sunny day.
OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino sounded the sirens no one heeded during his long tenure as Toronto Police chief. Now he believes we are finally listening.
"We've gone from a time where bad guys were shooting bad guys," Fantino says, "to what we're seeing now: Innocent people caught up in this OK Corral mentality where you can have a gunfight on the busiest street in North America and there is a callous disregard for the consequences."
Yet he is actually more optimistic about the future than he's ever been.
"The more people understand their own vulnerability, the more inclined they are to say, 'Enough is enough. We're not going to sit back and take it anymore. We're not going to be tolerant of these people, we're not going to have charity for gunmen anymore.' "
Surely that time has come.
We feel unsafe in our own city. For a while, there was a false sense of security -- if you didn't live at Jane and Finch or Galloway or in one of this city's other disastrous, crime-infested housing projects, if you didn't belong to a gang or deal in drugs, it was easier to believe that gun violence wouldn't shatter your world.
Not so anymore.
"We know much of the violence in our city takes place among people who are engaged in activities that make it far more likely they'll be victims of violent crime," Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair still insists.
"But unfortunately there have also been a number of cases in Toronto -- and those cases are always shocking to the entire community -- when people who are totally innocent, going about their daily lives, not engaged in any behaviour which would make it more likely that they would be victimized, and because they are in what is often called 'the wrong place at the wrong time,' they are victims.
"Everyone has a right to go shopping on Yonge St., to go out to the local pub and have an evening out with friends. When criminals decide to bring violence to those places, they put everybody at risk and it's a huge concern."
So Statistics Canada may insist that the homicide rate is down, again, and that crime is on the decrease, but it doesn't feel that way. It certainly doesn't read that way, not with the daily headlines filled with news of yet another shooting.
Like most criminologists, Scot Wortley is quick to insist that the numbers do show that we are not in any real danger from street violence. But interestingly, the University of Toronto professor has identified a number of disturbing trends in those stats which even he agrees are legitimate causes for concern.
Wortley says the evidence suggests that homicides are more likely to involve handguns and more likely to occur in public places than they would have 50 years ago. "That's why," he notes, "bystanders are being hit."
In fact, Stats Canada confirms that in 2007, handguns were used in about two-thirds of all Canadian homicides, up from about 25% in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In urban centres, like Toronto, 81% of all firearm-related homicides were committed with a handgun.
The typical murder victim has also become much younger, the criminologist says. "If you are over 30 and living in this city, your chances of dying a violent death are lower than they have ever been," Wortley notes.
"But if you are young and living in one of the disadvantaged neighbourhoods of Toronto," he warns, "there may have been a significant increase in the chances of your dying a violent death. Although our homicide rate hasn't changed that much over 30 years, and if anything it's declined, it has increased among certain populations."
So pity the thousands of young innocents trapped in Toronto's hell hole public housing neighbourhoods of crime -- the Ephraim Browns of this city, 11-year-olds who are gunned down while sitting on a fence at their cousin's birthday. Or the dozens more who narrowly miss death, like 12-year-old Matthew Page who last year had a bullet zoom by his head while playing toy cars inside his Driftwood Ct. bedroom.
Suddenly, Toronto has become a shooting gallery. Last weekend, we even had a gun-wielding 15-year-old boy used as a hitman to settle a score between feuding boyfriends at a 4-year-old's birthday party.
There are children with guns in our city, like child soldiers in some godforsaken Third World warrior state .
Quoting earth_as_one Canadians don't have a right to bear arms.
Wrong......see the English Bill of Rights of 1689, read William Blackstone.
Civilians have no need of automatic weapons. I used to hunt and I can't think of any legal situation requiring an AK-47.
I'm not a fan of automatic weapons.....nor did I ever own one, but you are correct, the AK 47 is a select fire weapon........I assume, however that the gun in question was a semi-auto version commonly sold.........the 7.62 x 39 round of the AK is an excellent deer slayer, a little under-powered, about equivalent to the .30-30.........and the first semi-auto hunting rifle was put on the market in 1903.
On the other hand, I'd be ok with keeping those things locked up at a gun club where they can't be taken off the premises except with a special permit to move between gun clubs.
This is a popular idea, but one I can't grasp....."keep all the guns in one place so the crooks know where they are and can make a giant haul all at once"......firearms already must be kept locked in the home.....
BTW Colpy, how do you feel about civilians possessing hand grenades, landmines, mortars and howitzers?
The Bill of Rights (or Declaration of Rights) is an act of the Parliament of England, with the long title An Act Declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and Settling the Succession of the Crown.