Many gathered in a Toronto neighbourhood Saturday morning to discuss ways to end gun violence as the city grapples with an increase in the number of gun-related deaths and shootings so far this year.
“We’ve been here before. How long do we see this continuing before we see real action, real policy change?” said Louis March, the Founder of Zero Gun Violence Movements.
“The amount of innocents losing their lives now, its not targeted anymore. It’s community against community.”
Several dignitaries gathered outside an apartment complex in the Jane and Falstaff area on Saturday to discuss ongoing gun violence in the neighbourhood and solutions for improving community safety. The meeting followed the shooting of 20-year-old Hashim Omar Hashi, a Toronto man who was shot and killed while trying to enter the underground-parking where he lived.
“We want to work with everybody to bring investments not only to this community but every community,” York South-Weston MPP Faisal Hassan said. “Our young people deserve hope and opportunity.”
The federal government recently proposed legislation that would take assault-style weapons off the streets with a buy-back program and increased penalties. It also will beef up border security in an effort to put an end to gun smuggling across the Canada-U.S. border.
“We are empowering municipalities to take action and ban handguns from their jurisdiction,” York-South Weston MP Ahmed Hussen said.
Toronto Mayor John Tory and city council support a national handgun ban and say city staff are reviewing the latest announcement from Ottawa in an effort to understand the kind of impact it would have here as the city grapples with an increase in such violence.
“I support any actions that the Government of Canada can take to stop gun violence and its deadly toll. That’s why I have long advocated for tougher gun laws, increased penalties for those engaging in gun violence, and investments in young people to help address the roots of gun violence,” Tory said in a statement earlier this week.
The City of Toronto has also been developing a community safety and well-being plan that aims to move the focus from emergency response to risk prevention.
“[We] will leverage the lived experiences of credible community members within the city, health and community teams, service agencies, and grassroots groups,” City Spokesperson Brad Ross said.
Toronto has seen 39 shootings and eight deaths since the beginning of 2021. Last year there were 46 shootings resulting in 21 deaths.
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