The federal government has finally accepted what cities have been complaining about for years: we’re not doing enough to tackle gun violence.
Last month, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale convened a summit on gun and gang violence — bringing together law enforcement, medical professionals, gun control and gun rights activists, Indigenous communities and community activists — all in hopes of finding innovative ways to reduce gun violence.
But when the government introduced Bill C-71, which amends the Firearms Act to enhance background checks, record-keeping and changes the ways the RCMP can classify firearms, it became abundantly clear that the government has again decided to rest on its law enforcement-heavy laurels. It’s doing the same thing as always, and hoping for better results.
If Canada truly wants to decrease gun violence, we must start by considering all types of gun violence — including suicides, accidents and police shootings — and rely on experts outside of law enforcement who have greater influence in potential victims’ lives.
The typical government approach to communities with high incidences of shootings and gun homicides has been to increase police presence through specialized task forces, such as the Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy (TAVIS).
However, not only have these efforts been rather ineffective at curtailing gun violence —Toronto had 594 shooting victims in 2017, more than double the number of victims in 2014— they’ve also led to significant resentment and distrust in the police because of heightened police surveillance. Indeed, TAVIS was disbanded after critics insisted it too heavily relied on carding African Canadians.