Two young people left dead, 23 injured. That was the aftermath of a Toronto block party on Monday night. Understandably, the residents of that Scarborough neighbourhood are scared and nervous. “I never thought it would happen here,” is a common quote found in news stories of any homicide.
And yet, of course it can happen there. Or here, or anywhere else. Monday night’s mass shooting
didn’t produce the only homicides in Toronto this week. Another young man was shot and killed on Tuesday night, and yet another on Wednesday.
Like an old west sherriff, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s idea is to run them out of town. “Go somewhere else. I don’t want ’em living in the city anymore,” he said. It’s a ludicrous, simplistic solution to an issue with complex roots. Where would Ford like these gang members to go? Will spreading them out among more of Canada’s communities make anyone safer?
There’s already a burgeoning guns and gangs problem here. In 2010, several arrests were made related to a gang known as the Illuminati Brotherhood. This week, Waterloo Regional Police put out a warning — they’re looking for a Kitchener man suspected of gun trafficking.
There is no single, simple solution to the issue of guns and gangs. It may make sense to keep violent criminals off the street longer with tougher sentencing laws, but that does nothing to prevent young people from joining gangs, acquiring guns and using them. It’s no coincidence that on a map of Toronto homicides, the richest neighbourhoods seem immune. Providing social, educational and financial opportunities to kids in low-income, at-risk neighbourhoods is less expensive than letting them flounder and then throwing them in jail.
When kids believe their best hope of a secure future is through joining a gang, it’s already too late.